FightClub by Chuck Palahniuk, is a powerful novel that shows how strong andcomplex the human mind actually is.
Thisnovel shows how the brain is capable of convincing itself that imaginary thingsare real. The narrator of the novel and the other main character, Tyler, are aperfect representation of this. These two characters show how the conscious andunconscious mind can be so different.
The author takes the audience on a psychologicaljourney, exploring the narrator’s conscious mind as well as his alter-egocharacter, or his unconscious mind. This novel explores the idea thatconsumerism can drive a person to insanity, willing to do whatever it takes todestroy society, including creating a strong alter ego to perform actions onenormally cannot. Inthe beginning of the book, the audience meets the narrator on the top of abuilding with a gun in his throat. The unnamed narrator explains that theperson holding the gun, Tyler, has been his best friend for a long time. It islater learned that the building they are standing on is going to explode from abomb made of fuming nitric acid.
The narrator states, “I know this becauseTyler knows this” (Palahniuk 12). This phrase is used many times throughout thebook, and is the reader’s first hint at Tyler and the narrator having a psychicconnection. This quote always shows that Tyler is more powerful than thenarrator, and Tyler may act as a teacher or mentor to him. Theauthor explains that the narrator lives a boring corporate lifestyle focused onconsumerism. The reader then learns he is suffering from insomnia, the only wayhe can sleep is attending support groups. The support groups allow him toexpress his emotions and in return, sleep at night. The narrator meets Tyler onvacation, and begins living with him after learning his home had beendestroyed. Tyler begins having sexual relations with a woman named Marla, whothe narrator had met at the support groups.
Tyler pulled this off because he ismuch more confident and stronger than the narrator. Themajority of the book convinces the reader that the narrator and Tyler are twoseparate people who are completely opposite, just living intersecting lives.Later it is learned that they are not different, Tyler is the narrator’salter-ego. It is very challenging for him to grasp the concept that he isindeed Tyler, he denies it until Marla explains, “you are, Tyler” (Palahniuk 174). The narrator is so bored with his averagelife, he imagines who he wants to be as a completely different person.
“I love everything about Tyler Durden, hiscourage and his smarts. His nerve. Tyler is funny and charming and forceful andindependent, and men look up to him and expect him to change their world. Tyleris capable and free, and I am not.” (Palahniuk 174).
This quote explains howthe narrator is completely obsessed with Tyler, he is everything the narratoraspires to be, the complete opposite of his actual self. Tyler is devious,strong, attractive, confident, and daring, all the qualities the narratorbelieves he does not have. Thesplit personality the narrator seems to have is best explained by SigmundFreud, a famous psychoanalyst. According to the Article “The Conscious andUnconscious Mind” by Kendra Cherry, Freud introduced the idea of the consciousand unconscious mind.
Freud explained his theory by relating it to an iceberg,the conscious mind is the tip of the ice that is visible while the unconsciousmind is the biggest part of the iceberg, even though it is underwater and notvisible. The psychoanalyst believed that the unconscious mind is made up ofmemories, feelings, and thoughts that cause too much pain for consciousawareness. Although people are not awareof their unconscious minds, it is still thought to control personalities andbehaviors. An example of this would be how the narrator is usually only able toaccess his unconscious mind while he is asleep. Tyler completely takes over his mind while he is asleep, hence beingpart of his unconscious mind. The narrator’s alter ego is necessary for him toexpress his feelings towards society. Thenarrator imagines Tyler because of his need to take his anger out on society.
Tyler had to be imagined because the narrator did not believe he had thequalities to rebel and express his feelings. Although the narrator and Tylerare the same person, the narrator feels safe listening to Tyler who he believesis much stronger than him. The rise of cultural consumerism drives him to wantto destroy society, which he believes cannot be done without Tyler. At the endof the novel, the narrator states “we’re going to break up civilization so wecan make something better out of the world” (Palahniuk 208). Society had become so materialized andmeaningless, people, including the narrator, were living pointless lives. Toensure life was not pointless anymore, Tyler and the narrator must experiencepain. They soon realized, they could not completely experience pain withoutadministering pain to others.
This shows how society is problematic and why ithad such a large effect on the narrator. Fight Club is relevant today because ofthe idea of consumerism. Consumerism is mentioned in the novel many times andleads the narrator to practically lose his own mind. A member of the Fight Clubexplains to the other members, “you have a class of young strong men and women,and they want to give their lives to something. Advertising has these peoplechasing cars and clothes they don’t need. Generations have been working in jobsthey hate, just so they can buy what they don’t really need.
We don’t have agreat war in our generation, or great depression, but we do, we have a greatwar of the spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The greatdepression is our lives. We have a spiritual depression” (Palahniuk 149). Thisquote explains how people are not living for the right reasons. People inmodern day society work depressing jobs just so they can afford material itemsthey believe will fill a void in their life.
David Harsanyi, an author for theFederalist, believes Fight Club isstill relevant because “it’s about boredom, another unappreciated anddestructive human condition (Harsanyi).” As society becomes more and moredriven by consumerism, this novel reminds its readers that this type oflifestyle can lead to insanity. ChuckPalahniuk shows how the conscious and unconscious mind work together to form aperson, even if that person is unaware of his or hers unconscious mind. When thenarrator became aware of his unconscious mind, it was too late and Tyler hadalready gained control of him. This is a very interesting concept because ofthe fact that the narrator and Tyler are the same person. Palahniuk alludes tothe idea that consumerism in society is what lead the narrator’s unconscious totake over, thus going insane.