The Book- Fight Club
Fight Club is a novel by Chuck Palahniuk, released in the year 1996. It focuses on a Narrator plagued by Insomnia. He consequently sees a doctor who recommends him to group therapy sessions for victims of testicular cancer. All this is done in the effort of seeking true pain. This assists him in getting his sleep back. However, he meets Marla and loses the feeling. This prompts him to leave the sessions, and meet Tyler in the process. Consequently, Tyler and the Narrator begin a fight club. Later, Durden begins an organization that targets corporate culture. This leads to differences with the Narrator, and the eventual elimination of Tyler. Palahniuk achieves success in plot development through the introduction of a split personality. Through Tyler, a reader can gain previously invisible insights on the narrator’s life.
Firstly, the split personality allows the narrator to explore his abilities that were previously unknown. In Tyler, we see an independent individual that is able to gain following. This is seen through his ability to organize the Fight Club. Similarly, he expands the organization to a national following. In the process, we see how great the narrator’s influence can be. Tyler has an anti-consumerist philosophy. Consequently, he forms ‘Project Mayhem’, an organization that targets proponents and components of the corporate and consumerist culture. The organization highlights the cult-like following that the narrator could achieve, through his split personality. The fanaticism of his followers is seen through the organization’s rules.
Self-actualization may be described as the fulfillment of potential and achieving all that is possible. The narrator has a single-parent background. He is raised by his mother who maintains a considerable degree of feminine influence in his life. However, Tyler maintains the opposite. He thinks that people can achieve self-actualization through becoming what they need to defy. Through Tyler, we see the narrator’s ideals of emasculation. However, the narrator is at conflict on this issue. This is heightened by the conflict that arises between the two personalities. The narrator realizes that he can achieve his self-actualization by eliminating Tyler. He consequently kills him, or at least he thinks.
Secondly, the Narrator’s split personality assists in developing a solution for his insomnia. Earlier in the story, the Narrator believes that his insomnia is a source of pain. He, therefore, goes out to seek real pain, at his doctor’s recommendation. By meeting Tyler, and setting up the Fight Club, the Narrator can finally meet his need. By participating in fights with his alter ego and other personalities, he can finally cure his insomnia. He achieves ‘sleep’ through interacting with Tyler and participating in the fights. Through the Fight Club, it may also be said that the narrator is a masochist. Infliction of pain satisfies him.
Thirdly, the narrator’s alter ego highlights his inability to fit into the contemporary society. This inability may be viewed as a psychological and philosophical problem. It may also be prescribed as the source of the narrator’s insomnia. Through Tyler and his sabotage of the Consumerist culture, the narrator’s inabilities can be seen. Similarly, the narrator maintains an existential philosophy throughout the book. The philosophy explains that individuals need to make meaning from a chaotic and empty universe. Individuals are often the objects of suffering, in this philosophy. Tyler’s description of the philosophy further highlights the narrator’s inability to fit into the society. For instance, the split personality claims that humans gain freedom to exercise their ideals, through losing everything. Tyler achieves this through destruction of corporate assets, through his organization. This instance also highlights the nihilist element in the narrator.
Fourthly, the Narrator’s maternal upbringing comes up as a possible cause or contributor to the problems in life. In the book, most of the characters relate to the narrator through not having a mother figure. Conversely, Tyler’s ideals entice him. He sees how other people look up to his alter ego, and its masculinity, as a source of inspiration. Tyler’s relationship with Marla surprises the narrator. This far, he has been unable to achieve anything positive with her. This may be attributable to his relatively feminine nature. Through these instances, it is seen that Tyler serves as the inspiration for the Narrator’s life. Similarly, the split personality highlights the narrator’s inherent desires. However, it also portrays the conflict in his life. There is a sense of lost gender identity in the character. Initially he collects furniture for a hobby, which is unlike masculine nature. The confused gender identity drives the narrator to perform actions that were truly unlike him. For instance, he participates in fights and defies his boss.
Earlier in the story, he discovers pain and longs for it. Consequently, he embarks on a journey that allows him to feel pain. Through his split-personality, and the fight club in general, he achieves the pain that he desires. By introducing an alter ego, Palahniuk highlights the lengths that the narrator will go, to achieve his needs. His split personality is portrayed as a violent individual. Through him, the narrator’s destructive self can be developed. Tyler engages himself in various destructive activities, such as a plan to bomb a public building. The narrator also participates in the organization and its destructive activities.
The narrator’s destructive self is best seen in the destruction of his house, which may be attributable to him. However, his conflict with Tyler results in the narrator’s change. He starts his mission to stop Tyler from harming the building. In the book, Palahniuk has used Tyler, the alter ego, to good effect. He achieves character development by introducing the split personality. Readers are able to gain greater insights, into the life, conflicts and personality of the narrator.