the construction of identity in fight club

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Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club is an unprecedented book which is especially concerned with the situation of forging secure details in the face of modern day challenges: consumerism, capitalism, emasculating white-collar job, an absence of fathers, and an absence of historical distinctiveness. The text’s protagonist is a figure and so lost in the ennui of recent life that he is powered to creating a great unruly alter-ego who has the courage to act out his unconscious needs, and who promises deliverance from his state of anonymity. The disastrous results that come regarding speak quantities about the post-modern world in which the history is set, a global which borrows heavily from your own. This essay is going to explore the various causes of the ‘identity problem’ as provided by Palahniuk, as well as the various alternatives his personas desperately apply. It will be contended that personality in modern times, because conceived simply by Fight Club, is a issue that is while pressing since it is unsolvable.

One of Battle Club’s primary concerns regarding the problem of identity may be the notion of consumerism, through extension capitalism, commodification plus the endless pursuit of self-improvement. Early in the tale, the narrator recognises the futility of acquisition like a basis to get identity. His home is a high-rise condominium, ‘a type of filing case for fresh professionals. ‘ This metaphor aptly identifies both the abgefahren physical truth of the condo, along with the mental effects of dislocation that it events. Relating the incident of his home’s living room bombing, he later comments on his feelings towards their internal items:

You buy furniture. You tell your self, this is the last sofa Let me ever want in my life¦. then for a few years if you’re satisfied that no matter what goes incorrect, at least you’ve got the sofa. The proper set of food. The perfect foundation. The draperies. The square area rug. Then if you’re trapped in the lovely nesting, and the things you used to personal, now they own you. (p. 44)

The narrator’s severe awareness of his generation’s unbearable obsession with consumption increases alongside his relationship with the rogue anti-consumerist, Tyler (who is, of course , only an additional side from the narrator’s very own personality). In a passage which is as disappointing as it is entertaining, the narrator catalogues all the IKEA things he owned or operated that were destroyed by the explosive device Tyler implemented. The specificity of his descriptions with the items, in conjunction with the number that he is the owner of, underscores the extent of his passion. This is a great affliction which, he observes, afflicts numerous others: ‘I was not the only servant to my own nesting instinct’ (p. 43). Significantly, this individual prefaces this kind of very specific list of things with: ‘We all have same’¦(p. 43). Not only is usually his generation preoccupied with acquiring items that, as he explained, ‘end up owning [them]’, but the items themselves (besides the options for numerous colours and combinations) are not even unique, everyone essentially owns identical things. The sheer amount of shades and designs they are available in, in conjunction with the narrator’s uncanny capability to recite these colours and styles, emphasise the extent with this multinational businesses success, a success made possible by a global passion with performances, consumption, ease, timesaving and moneymaking most at the expenditure of depth, originality and substance. With the aid of Tyler, the narrator understands that the everlasting processes of self-improvement and acquisition will be doomed, and incapable of making a stable or perhaps genuine sense of identity. Oh Tyler! he exclaims, Deliver me personally from Swedish furniture. Deliver me by clever fine art. May We never be content. May I hardly ever be ideal (p. 46). In saying this plea, the narrator demonstrates his rejection of society’s preoccupation with superficiality, a preoccupation Palahniuk shows to be since chronic since it is hopeless.

As Tyler and the narrator discover, the situation of consumerism is not confined to their own generation and class, it exists inside the upper echelons of society as well. This can be perhaps demonstrated most poignantly at the wedding caterers job wherever Tyler torments the wealthy hostess of your glamorous party one in which in turn titans and the gigantic wives drink barrels of champagne and bellow at each additional wearing gemstones bigger than [the narrator] feels (p. 81) by simply claiming to obtain urinated in one of her perfume wine bottles. What was allowed to be a mischievous statement against flashy wealth quickly turns into a pitiful and ugly picture in which the primarily poised hostess (‘Madam’) is usually left drunken and bloodied on the bath room floor, her perfume bottles shattered and her mood utterly damaged. Accusing her husband of having an affair using a guest, filing that she has ‘tired of all the people they will call their particular friends’ (p. 83) and distraught about the inflammatory act, the once-immaculate girl, who seemed to have it all, is revealed to have very little. With this kind of scene, and others like it, Palahniuk paints a photo of a hopeless world through which people continuously try (and fail) to base all their identities for the items that they own and the image that they project, instead of on the person they are or maybe the things consider. It is a community in which ‘there is no you and there is no me’ (p. 164) only clear shells, contrived exteriors, structures without insides.

In Palahniuk’s text, not only are capitalism and commodification harmful to the individual’s conception of self, but also towards the workplace and, by expansion to the those who attempt to create identities within the workplace. The narrator in the story happens to be an ‘insurance adjustor’ ” a role through which he robotically applies a mathematical protocol in order to identify whether a item recall or maybe a payout of damages would be more expedient for his company. This technique demonstrates the ways in which job has succumbed to the reasoning of profit maximization and cost minimisation at the price of moral or ethical factors regarding the individuals involved ” in this case, these affected by the malfunction of goods produced by the company’s clients. With this process, individuals are dehumanised, they may be reduced for their bodily varieties as statistics of revenue or legal responsibility.

Nevertheless this dehumanisation is not only induced on the public by the organization, it is also inflicted on the personnel employed to undertake their aims, such as the narrator. This is probably best highlighted in the early on sections of the storyline in which the narrator describes the monotony in the air travel he or she must endure in aid of his operate. He says: ‘You get up at Air flow Harbour International¦You wake up at O’Hare. You wake up by La Reten. You awaken at Logan’ (p. 25). This repetition is continued throughout the chapter, with many different airports that he ‘wakes up at’ inserted intermittently between discussion and points. There is no sense of personal agency conveyed through this repeated range, rather, he’s a pawn who is endlessly transported between cities in the whim of anonymous superiors, only learning where he can be upon waking up. But possibly the most impressive disadvantage of the work he undertakes, made apparent through an a shortage of description above all else, is the loneliness it engenders. At no reason for the areas set in his workplace can we learn the titles of his colleagues (or indeed, anything about his colleagues). There is no perception of community alluded to, not even a single based on a mutual hate for the effort they must embark on. The only exchanges that are comprehensive are individuals between the narrator and his employer ” whose name, significantly, we by no means learn. Businesses he identifies is not even one in which stress supplies a focus ” instead, he seems to drift in and out, completely apathetic regarding the company that are equally apathetic towards him. This feeling of apathy is not confined to the job when the narrator functions. When Tyler gets terminated from his job like a projectionist, for example , he displays an attitude signifies he has been treated in much the same method. Addressing his boss, this individual states:

I am trash and shit and crazy for you and this whole fucking world¦You don’t attention where I live or perhaps how I think, or the things i eat or perhaps how I nourish my kids or how I pay the doctor merely get sick, and yes I actually am ridiculous and tired and weakened, but I am continue to your responsibility. (p. 115)

These kinds of matter-of-fact lines describe how workers are not treated because real people with individual individuality and experiences, but rather while machines that companies make use of to their very own ends. This is certainly perhaps best exemplified inside the boss’s innocuous response to Tyler: “We appreciate your contribution to our success” (p. 113). Just like the narrator (unsurprisingly ” since they are 1 and the same), Tyler understands that he is wholly throw away in the sight of his superiors, who have make income their target at the price of their employers’ lives. Just like the narrator and Tyler find usage an not enough source of self- fulfilment and identity, also do they find the tedious opportunities in which they have to function and that have been corrupted capitalist imperatives totally insufficient. During these jobs, they are not people. Rather, they can be human resources.

The catastrophe of identification occurring in post-modern communities and discovered in Combat Club can be one in which will men face particular difficulties. The useless consumerism mentioned earlier on, coupled with the exploitative characteristics of work, not only dehumanise although also emasculate since mankind has an innate desire for control, and since equally result in a loss of control. The story describes a world by which young men will be ill-prepared pertaining to the lives ahead of them and at a complete loss as to the purpose of their very own existence. Palahniuk is at pains to locate this problem beyond the realms of consumerism and work. For this end, the void of fathers is definitely one which has repeated attention. The narrator explains the rebellious Tyler ‘never knew his father’ (p. 49). The narrator knew his father ‘for about six years’ (p. 50), nevertheless remembers nothing. His mature dealings with his absent daddy have revolved around the unusual long-distance phone calls he makes when arrives at crossroads in the life, requesting ‘Now what? ‘ His father will certainly not be able to deliver, meaning the narrator is usually consigned into a life of restless suspended. But what is definitely the deeper relevance of the lack of fathers? In one stage, the narrator states ‘What you see for fight membership is a era of men raised by simply women’ (p. 50) sometime later it was, the auto mechanic (who is basically parroting Tyler) explains “If you’re men and if you’re Christian and living in America, your dad is the model to get God. And if you under no circumstances know the father, should your father pacte out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about The almighty? ” (p. 141). This really is perhaps the most important line of the complete text, since it encapsulates the two cause as well as the nature with the problem which the fight night clubs seek to redress, as well as pointing to the feasible repercussions in the problem. With no male part models, young men are unable to construct complete visions of who they are, because they just do not know wherever they have are derived from. Further, they can be unable to fully conceptualise overwhelming questions about the world surrounding them, the meaning of existence (‘what [they] believe that about God) and, consequently, what they imagine about themselves. Without fathers, these men do not know who they are.

An extension in the problem of fathers inside the text is definitely the problem of the past. The men of fight club, particularly the narrator, have an ambig attitude toward history. On one hand, they are exacerbated about their position as the inheritors of the deeply struggling past. This can be exemplified in the narrator’s rant which begins ‘for centuries, human beings experienced screwed up and trashed and crapped within this planet, and after this history expected me to wash up after everyone’ (p. 124). He can overwhelmed by extent in the world’s concerns, angered that he is expected to fix them, and frustrated by his inability to do so. Therefore , this individual sees damage as the sole solution not merely destruction of problematic locations and points (eg. decreasing in numbers pandas, ruined rainforests), nevertheless of tradition and history itself, proclaiming that this individual wants to ‘burn the Louvre¦and wipe [his] ass while using Mona Lisa’ (p. 124). Echoing Tyler, he actually wants to destroy history, to ‘blast the earth free of it’ (p. 124) in an attempt to ease his stress regarding his inability to fix its concerns. But there may be another aspect of the narrator’s and his peers’ attitude towards history. They not only wish to ‘destroy’ it so that it can no longer anguish them, but in reality wish to control it two desires which usually appear to be in opposition. Feeling they are ‘God’s middle children’ (p. 141), with no exceptional place in background, but rather in a perpetual postmodern present that is bereft of distinctiveness, they wish to carve out a ‘special place’ through Job Mayhem ” the anarchic group which grew out of deal with club, and which was a number of escalating interruptions aimed at businesses, consumer usage, and the financial system itself. By reaping havoc on society ” perhaps even dying in the act ” the boys of Job Mayhem wish to redress their very own feelings of insignificance occasioned by their abandonment, their emasculation and their unfortunate place in record. As Tyler explains: ‘getting Gods attention for being bad was much better than getting simply no attention in any way. Maybe mainly because Gods hate is better than his indifference’ ( p. 141). This line reveals the extent from the narrator’s (and his peers’) sense of worthlessness and anonymity within a world by which they are ‘the crap plus the salves of history’ (p. 123), all too aware of the extent in the world’s challenges, yet confused as to alternatives.

As significant as the many factors behind unstable details which this kind of text is exploring (consumerism, commodification, dehumanisation through work, abandonment, a lack of historical distinctiveness) will be the comments this makes for the solutions used to redress these troublesome identities. While at first powerful, the malignancy support groups that the narrator attends in an attempt to cathartically cure his insomnia at some point prove unproductive, because he seems exposed by fact that Marla knows he is a false. Both his and Marla’s sick obsession with participating in these groups underscores the extent of their desperation, their particular loneliness and their complete lack of direction within their depressing lives. They do not find out who they are, and to address that problem, they masquerade because people they are not. To do so , they are granted a tip into loss of life and, paradoxically, this is the only thing in order to them think alive. The fight golf equipment are similar in this they strip the narrator of his (unstable) id, reducing him to an unknown body, and allowing him to experience more alive by bringing him closer to death in this instance, through masochistic violence. Additionally, they provide a perception of community, which is a vital precondition for the formation of your stable identification. Yet, not surprisingly, they too are eventually not able to fully deliver him by his listless, lost point out. Project Mayhem, an extension from the fight night clubs, is equally ineffectual in bringing about a reliable sense of self for the narrator. While its target is to ‘blast’ its people free of history, it ends up doing not. Project Mayhem eventually turns into a recapitulation from the familiar ideologies of history ” most notably fascism and the reds. The ‘space monkey’ users become sadistic slaves and clones, they shave their very own heads, melt away their finger prints, worship the dictatorial Tyler and essentially become tools to the movement’s disturbing group will. Job Mayhem thus fails to protected new, individualistic identities due to the members by which they are clear of the provides of history, rather, it offers them only the same positions of enslavement which they experience within their regular lives, and which they tried (and failed) to overcome through fight team.

The narrative culmination of Task Mayhem, and of the story alone, in which the narrator stands on top of of the Parker-Morris Building using a gun in the mouth, is essentially a return for the masochism of the fight night clubs. This circularity reflects the futility with the task of ‘reaching’ or achieving a reliable sense of identity in the perpetual present of the wild post-modern globe. Fight Club’s notion of identity turns into, in essence, a continuous ‘waiting’ to get an identity. “There isn’t a you and a me anymore” (p. 164), Tyler talks about, and with these words and phrases, he encapsulates every aspect of the situation of identification which this kind of story takes as its concentrate. The dehumanising effects of self-improvement, commodification associated with capitalist-based professions make people slaves to trends and to companies that attention little of the welfare. They are no longer persons ( a ‘you’ or a ‘me’), rather, they are private figures of consumption and production who also are forced to perpetuate the capitalist system. An absence of dads renders these individuals confused about their origins, their purpose and their place in the world, and an absence of historical distinctiveness leaves them lost as to all their significance. The insomniac narrator attempting to make sense of him self in this world is definitely driven to everything from creating another individuality, to not having cancer, pissing in perfume, stealing human fat, vandalising film fishing reels, blowing up structures, brawling in fight clubs¦ to building a terroristic revolutionary company hell-bent in murder and martyrdom. The radicalness of his attempts demonstrates both the extent in the problems he and his colleagues face with regards to identity, and the failure of his work (coupled with all the story’s disappointing denouement) illustrate the futility of finding alternatives as long as the post-modern globe remains unrevised.


Palahniuk, Throw, Fight Cub, (New York: 1996).

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