Identity in Fight Club

Posted on November 27, 2005 by kiraprater

After reading the book, seeing the film version of Fight Club, and reading Henry Giroux’s article on Fight Club, I definitely had a lot to ponder. Giroux frowns on director David Fincher’s comments that the movie is a "coming-of-age narrative" (21), but I don’t think that aspect of the book and film should be ignored.

Obviously, the narrator craves an identity. He is, as Giroux points out, he is: ". . . a neoliberal Everyman: an emasculated, repressed corporate drone whose life is simply an extension of a reified and commodified culture" (8). He believes he can get an identify from death, or dying: "This is why I loved the support groups so much, if people thought you were dying, they gave you their full attention. If this might be the last time they saw you, they really saw you" (98). Later on, he says: "And the fight goes on and on because I want to be dead. Because only in death do we have names" (192).

However, it is ironic that the narrator longs for an identity available only in death because, in creating Tyler Durden, he created a sort of eternal life (or identity) for himself. In keeping with the scripture (King James Bible, John 11:26), "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die", the narrator created a God/Father for lots of men, one that would never die.

I suppose it could work both ways – that the narrator is both the creator and the created (both Victor Frankenstein and the Monster). The narrator and others talk about being freed from the workyday life – "As long as you’re at fight club, you’re not how much money you’ve got in the bank. You’re not your job" (135), but ultimately the members of fight club are not freed. They are merely enslaved by something new. After all, the God/Father narrator ends up making his disciples in his image, with black pants, etc. The disciples are "a copy of a copy of a copy".  This all reminds me of Giroux’s mention of fascism: "Jack is shocked by the killing, which in turn enables him to recognize that Tyler has become a demagogue and that Fight Club has evolved into a fascist paramilitary group. . ." (11). The narrator is not freed, either – he may no longer be enslaved by his recall campaign coordinating, Audi-driving, IKEA-furnished life, but he is enslaved by his creation, his Tyler Durden-demagogue identity.

I suppose that the narrator does "hit bottom" at the end, but I’m not sure he is "saved" by the God/Father of the mental hospital. But I wonder why Chuck Palahniuk did not name the narrator, not even at the end?

Comments are closed.