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Project Dos

Page history last edited by Travis Rodery 12 years, 7 months ago

Travis Rodery

Intro to College Writing


17 October 2011

Having a Purpose

     “The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club” (48).  Inspired because of a camping trip, Chuck Palahniuk's body was badly bruised and swollen; his co-workers avoided asking him what had happened on the camping trip.  Their reluctance to know what happened in his private life inspired the writing of “Fight Club” (Chaplinsky).  Chuck Palahniuk’s creation of “Fight Club” as a novel was completed and published by 1996.  "What you see at fight club is a generation of men raised by women" (50).  In Palahniuk’s mind, men are acting like women and buying material things they do not need, and then those things are taking control them.  Buying an endless array of items out of an IKEA magazine will not make a man happy, so why do it?  Consumerism has forced the narrator in the novel “Fight Club” to be exactly like everyone else.  Through the split personality of the narrator, the making Fight Club, and the creation of Project Mayhem, Chuck Palahniuk is creating a way for men to become reborn and feel a sense of purpose.


      Fight Club centers itself around an narrator left nameless, whose job it is to determine whether or not recalls are necessary for an unnamed car company and manufacturer.  He is not satisfied with his life at all and has fallen into a depression like state.  The narrator is unhappy with how consumerism has forced him to be exactly like everyone else.  His body can no longer handle his life style of the stress of his job and the jet lag brought upon by frequent business trips, causing him to develop insomnia and he no longer is being able to sleep at all at night.  After he visits the doctors, the doctor feels no sympathy for him and tells him to go to a support group to see what real pain is like.  After going to the support groups, he discovers he can treat his so called “disease” by attending support groups for various severe illnesses or conditions such as brain parasites or testicular cancer.  He did not know it, but his life was about to change right before him.    


     Dissociative identity disorder  is a psychiatric diagnosis and describes a condition in which a person displays multiple distinct identities or personalities, each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment (Williams).  Throughout the novel, the narrator refers to himself as Joe, for example the narrator says “I am Joe's lack of a better word” (78).  While on one of his frequent business trips, he finds his alter ego in Tyler Durden on a nude beach somewhere on the West Coast.  Tyler works ina projection booth at night, where he did changeovers if the theater was old enough.  He also works as waiter where he sabotages companies and harms clients by messing with the customer’s food by sticking male private parts in them or farting on the deserts.  Durden steals left-over drained human fat from different liposuction clinics for his Paper Street Soap Company that brings in income.  He is the creator of Fight Club, as it was his idea to instigate the fight that led to it.  “May I never be complete. May I never be content. May I never be perfect. Deliver me, Tyler, from being perfect and complete"(58).  “Joe” is reborn and perfectly completed through Tyler Durden, everything that the narrator wishes and wants to do but does not; Tyler is there and does it for him.  His alter ego guides him through a rebellious path of self-denial and destruction.    The narrator and his alter ego become a reckless monster trying to fulfill harmful acts to bring down corporate America.     


      After an explosion destroys the narrator's condominium and everything else he had ever owned and bought out of an IKEA magazine, he calls and asks to stay at Tyler's house.  Tyler agrees and, but asks for something in return when they go to a run-down bar together: "I want you to hit me as hard as you can." Both men find that they enjoy the ensuing fist fight.  They move in together and establish a secret group, the group is called Fight Club and it draws in countless men with similar personalities that engage into bare-knuckle fighting matches.  Their club is based down in a basement of a bar and takes place one day a week.  There are eight main rules that the members have to follow and they involve the clothing rules, the fighting rules, and not to talk about Fight Club.  After Fight Club has been going strong, a member tells the Narrator about two new rules of the fight club: that nobody is the center of the fight club except for the two men fighting, and that the fight club will always be free.  The two men fighting become stars and get there fifteen minutes of fame when they go to fight club and have the full attention of the crowd and are rooted on.  It gives them something to live for and to look forward to.  Outside of Fight Club, the fighter was just an average Joe, but that one night a week when all of the lights were on him, he was a god.  “After a night in fight club, everything in the real world gets the volume turned down. Nothing can piss you off. Your word is law, and if other people break that law or question you, even that doesn't piss you off” (69).  Outside in the real world, men were clones, each doing the same thing every day and going along with society.  They were weak and vulnerable to the world due to being babied by their mothers growing up.  But, after Fight Club emerged, men were being transformed into strong, beast-like animals capable and not scared of anything.  Men going to fight club every week were reborn each week and for once everything would go their way and against the social norm of society. “You aren't alive anywhere like you're alive at fight club.... Fight club isn't about winning or losing fights. Fight club isn't about words. You see a guy come to fight club for the first time, and his ass is a loaf of white bread. You see this same guy here six months later, and he looks carved out of wood” (42).  Members were being saved and reborn into strong individuals, after decades of men with a loss of manly hood.  Fight Club brings out the inner tough guy that has been locked away and trapped in every man that joins it.  A kind of male fearlessness is represented by all the men, where the characters of the book embrace manliness and attempt to be as manly as they can be. The narrator disparages gyms as “crowded with guys trying to look like men, as if being a man means looking the way a sculptor or an art director says” (26).  Instead, they promote the self-destruction of the Fight Club over the self-improvement of the gym.  They also resent being "a generation of men raised by women" and seek to find their manliness and rebirth through the fights in fight club.


     Tyler tries to create a purpose for the men in Fight Club.  The once secretive now over populated group gets so popular and so many people broke the first real that it attains a nationwide presence and frenzy. Tyler uses this power to spread his anti-consumerist ideas, recruiting Fight Club's members to participate in increasingly elaborate pranks on commercial America.  In order to get into this prestigious group, one must sit outside the Paper Street house for three days and have the correct number of items:  One pair of heavy black shoes, two pair of black socks and two pair of plain underwear, one heavy black coat, one white towel, one army surplus cot mattress, and one white plastic mixing bowl.  Men would leave their own homes and jobs just to be a part of this.  Eventually, he gathers the most devoted fight club members and forms Project Mayhem, a cult-like organization that trains itself as an army to bring down and sabotage present day society and its norms. This organization, similar to Fight Club, is controlled by a set of rules as well: one: you do not ask questions about Project Mayhem; two you do not ask questions about Project Mayhem; three no excuses; four no lies; five you have to trust Tyler Durden.  “Only in death are we no longer part of Project Mayhem” (190).  Members of this cult are reborn and die for this project.  At first, the narrator was a corporative member in Project Mayhem, and then the narrator becomes uncomfortable with the increasing destructiveness of cult’s activities.  He seeks to stop Tyler and his “space monkeys” when Robert Paulson, a friend of his from the testicular cancer support group that he would cry into his chest, is killed during one of Project Mayhem's sabotage operations.  Families, houses, and even jobs were all left to join this group, just for men to gain a purpose in life.    


      Through the creation of Project Mayhem, the split personality of the narrator, the making Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk is creating a way for men to become reborn and feel a sense of purpose.  Fight Club opens the door for many average Joes and gives them the opportunity to become a star and become known within a group.  Project Mayhem brings together a group of people to cut down consumerism with the modern day society.  The separate personality between the narrator and Tyler Durdin helps “Joe” express all the things he wish he can do through the use of Tyler.  Chuck Palahniuk opens a new way for men to grow out of their mom’s arms and become reborn into a strong and important individual.

Works Citied

Chaplinsky, Joshua. "Strange But True: A Short Biography of Chuck Palahniuk." The Cult | The Official Chuck Palahniuk Site. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://chuckpalahniuk.net/>.

Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2005. Print.

Williams, Jessica. "Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder): Signs, Symptoms, Treatment." WebMD - Better Information. Better Health. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder

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