Dr Stephen W.B. Rizzo
English Composition I
March 21, 2015
The First Rule of Fight Club
Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996, Fight Club, started out as a book that inspired a massive following. Its popularity prompted David Fincher to use its storyline to shoot the 1999 movie by the same title. Like the novel, the movie also garnered a cultic following. The novel focuses on an unreliable and seemingly tormented narrator, whose name remains unnamed, and his relationship with the mysterious Tyler Durden. The duo creates a fight club, an underground boxing club, which later grows into an organization whose mission, Project Mayhem, is to tear down the social structure. The book entails anti-capitalist ideals and taps into human emotion on this very subject. Both protagonists appear to have deep-seated issues and, in the end, it emerges that they are, indeed, the same person despite their differing psyches (Wartenberg 41).
The narrator, co-creator of fight club, is an insomniac who holds a job in the automobile industry. He despises his job and his station in life. He is in enviable physical health, yet he attends a number of support groups for people living with terminal diseases. Toward the end of the book, he discovers that he and Tyler are the same person. However, it is already too late for the narrator, as he has unwittingly adopted some of Tyler’s persona. Firstly, the two are inseparable, but the situation changes when the narrator realizes that Tyler is going to take over his life and make the narrator lose himself (Wartenberg 98). On the other hand, Tyler is a vicious, yet charismatic individual. He is also the leader of the fight club. In the beginning, Tyler's relationship with the narrator is friendly, but Tyler later becomes the main antagonist. Throughout the book, he is perfectly aware that he and the narrator are the same person, yet he refrains from sharing this information. He hopes that the situation makes it easy for him to take over the narrator’s life.
The story cuts to the core of the question of who a person truly is. In psychological terms, the narrator is suffering from a mental disorder known as Borderline Personality Disorder, hence the existence of Tyler. There are several diagnostic criteria for this disorder, some of which the narrator presents. He is trying frantically to avoid abandonment, but it is unclear whether this abandonment is perceived or real (Krawitz and Jackson 125). He develops unstable but intense interpersonal relationships, which show in his relations with both Tyler and Marla Singer. The latter is another character in the novel and his boss at his day job. He suffers from identity disturbance and is constantly unaware of his sense of self. He goes from thinking that Tyler is there to save him to being sure that Tyler is out to get him.
The personalities of the two characters are at odds with each other. The narrator chooses to withdraw himself from society; he lives alone and avoids personal relationships with any other person. He is a corporate drone, high strung, and neurotic. At one point, Tyler shoves a gun into his mouth with the intention of killing him as though to emphasize this point. However, he stops to wonder how clean the weapon is. In contrast, Tyler is enigmatic and able to take on any situation. He is funny, violent, anarchistic, devious, free-spirited, and suave, to name a few of his characteristics. The narrator realizes this difference and, at one point, says, “Tyler is capable and free, and I am not” (Palahniuk 23). The fact that Tyler is all these incredible, yet awful things should mean that the narrator too is the same given that they are the