Anonymous: An analysis of Fight Club
Before there came to be the concept of the 99%, before there was the movement that radicalized the economy world, there was Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. The story of an anonymous narrator dealing with his demons in the form of his split personality, Tyler Durden. One of the reasons why the novel is famous is because it brought forth a reality that many were living, but none was accepting: consumerism was taking over, and people were suffering because of it. This paper contributes towards the thesis that the narrator was the representation of the consumerist world, and Tyler was part of the 99%, the anonymous sect of people who were being robbed of their identity under the pretext of modern civilization. Furthermore, Fight Club is us: we all have a narrator inside of us, given the power of the consumerist agenda, but we fight with the Tyler inside, who is struggling to create his identity and break away from the norm.
The first instance from which we can infer that the narrator represents the consumerist America of the time is his through his dislike of Marla, whom he meets at a meeting that he had been frequenting to cure himself of his insomnia. Marla calls the narrator out on his false pretenses, calling him a faker. These point towards the characteristic ego of the consumerist era: Marla was everything that consumerism hated and feared. She was a strong, outspoken personality, a combination that is deadly to the power was driven and top-down structure of consumerism.
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Coming face to face with his faults and weaknesses in the form of Marla puts the narrator in the arena of the consumers, who don’t want their ambitions to be tainted by the stains of truth CITATION Pal96 p 8-13 n y t l 16393 (8-13).
The second hint comes from when the narrator feels incredibly uncomfortable with Tyler’s anti-consumerist ideas, and his initiative of Project Mayhem. Tyler plans to topple the American civilization and tear out the roots of the corrupted system. In fact, the very rules of the Fight Club and Project Mayhem seem to be a mockery of the consumerist structure: “1. You don’t ask questions. 2. You don’t ask questions . . . 5. You have to trust Tyler.” This seems to be a sarcastic commentary on consumerism, telling people to stay quiet and do as they were told. Because this structure and sarcasm threatens the basic threads of the consumerist narrator’s mind, he feels threatened by Tyler CITATION Pal96 p “84, 87, 90” n y t l 16393 (84, 87, 90).
The third hint of the narrator being a pawn of consumerism comes from the end of the movie when he wakes up in the hospital thinking he is dead, but instead is met by hospital employees who are waiting for Tyler to come back. Tyler here represents, once again, the anonymous man belonging to the 99%. Tyler is the picture of the people who are tired of staying under the corporate ladders’ shoes. Popular though he is, his efforts seem to be in vain, since he ultimately loses to the narrator. This is akin to the present condition of the middle-class man, who tries to fight against losing to the structure, but becomes a part of it anyway CITATION Pal96 p 155 n y t l 16393 (155).
Thus, Fight Club is for all of us: who have a narrator and a Tyler inside us. It represents the ultimate struggle of the human mind and logic, whether to fall prey to structure and let it drive us, or become an independent entity and drive it ourselves. This might also be the reason the narrator is anonymous: the author gives us a chance to take sides. Through the consumerist narrator, we become part of the social structure, and through Tyler, we realize the need to topple it and create a deeper, greater world for ourselves.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. New Edition (Printed 2006). London, United Kingdom: Vintage Publishing, 1996. Print.
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