Fight Club is a 1996 novel written by American author Chuck Palahniuk. It follows the life of an anonymous narrator, a product recall specialist for an unamed car company. Due to his stressful job and the jet lag brought upon by frequent business trips, this everyman becomes discontent with his life. Thus he becomes afflicted by recurring insomnia. After his therapist's frustrated declaration that compared to the men experiencing testicular cancer, The Narrator is not suffering, he sits in on several support groups under the guise that he, too, suffers from the diseases. Sharing the problems of others allegedly cures The Narrator's insomnia, until he encounters Marla Singer, another "tourist," who reminds The Narrator that he, too, does not belong in the groups. After a confrontation, they agree to attend separate support group meetings to avoid seeing each other. On a nude beach, The Narrator meets Tyler Durden, who is a charismatic extremist with peculiar means.
Beginning of Fight ClubEdit
After an explosion dismantles his condominium, The Narrator asks to stay at Tyler's house. Tyler agrees, but asks The Narrator for something in return: "I want you to hit me as hard as you can." Both men find the ensuing fight enjoyable. This initial fight prompts the "two" of them to establish an underground Fight Club as a form of unconventional psychotherapy. This club draws numerous men with similiar temperaments into bare-knuckle fighting matches, set to the following rules:
1. You don't talk about fight club.
2. You don't talk about fight club.
3. When someone says stop, or goes limp, the fight is over.
4. Only two guys to a fight.
5. One fight at a time.
6. They fight without shirts or shoes.
7. The fights go on as long as they have to.
8. If this is your first night at fight club, you have to fight.
-Fight Club, pages 48-50
Marla Singer, noticing that the Narrator has not recently attended his support groups, calls him to claim that she has overdosed on Xanax in a half-hearted suicide attempt. Tyler Durden picks up the phone to Marla's drug-induced rambling and rescues her, resulting in an uneasy affair that confounds The Narrator and confuses Marla Singer. Throughout this affair, Marla Singer is unaware both of Fight Club's existence and the interaction between Tyler Durden and The Narrator. Because Tyler Durden and Marla Singer are never seen at the same time, The Narrator wonders if they are the same person.
Project Mayhem (main article: Project Mayhem)Edit
As Tyler Durden brings Fight Club to a nationwide presence, he uses it to spread his anti-consumerist ideas, recruiting Fight Club members to participate in increasingly elaborate pranks on corporate America. He eventually gathers the most devoted Fight Club members and forms "Project Mayhem," a cult-like organisation that trains itself as an army to bring down modern civilization. This organisation, like Fight Club, is controlled by a set of rules:
1. You don't ask questions.
2. You don't ask questions.
3. No excuses.
4. No lies.
5. You have to trust Tyler.
-Fight Club, pages 119, 122, 125
Plot Twist: Separate PersonalitiesEdit
While initially a loyal participant in Project Mayhem, The Narrator becomes uncomfortable with the increasing destructiveness of its activities. He resolves to stop Tyler Durden and his followers when Bob, a friend from the testicular cancer support group, is killed during one of Project Mayhem's sabotage operations. However, The Narrator learns that he himself is Tyler Durden; Tyler Durden is not a separate person, but a separate personality.
As the The Narrator's mental state deteriorated, his mind formed a new personality that was able to escape from the problems of his life. Marla Singer inadvertently reveals to The Narrator that he and Tyler Durden are the same person. Tyler Durden's affair with Marla Singer — whom The Narrator professes to dislike — was actually The Narrator's own affair with Marla Singer. The Narrator's bouts of insomnia had actually been Tyler Durden's personality surfacing; Tyler Durden was active whenever The Narrator was sleeping. The Tyler Durden personality not only created Fight Club, he also blew up The Narrator's condo.
Tyler Durden plans to blow up a skyscraper using homemade bombs created by Project Mayhem; the actual target of the explosion, however, is the nearby national museum. Tyler Durden plans to die as a martyr during this event, taking The Narrator's life as well. Realizing this, The Narrator sets out to stop Tyler Durden, although Tyler Durden is always thinking ahead of him. The Narrator makes his way to the roof of the building, where Tyler Durden holds him at gunpoint. However, when Marla Singer comes to the roof with one of the support groups, Tyler Durden vanishes, as Tyler Durden "was his hallucination, not hers."
With Tyler Durden done, The Narrator waits for the bomb to explode and kill him. However, the bomb malfunctions because Tyler Durden mixed paraffin into the explosives. Still alive and holding Tyler Durden's gun, The Narrator makes the first decision that is truly his own: he puts the gun in his mouth and shoots himself.
Some time later, The Narrator awakens in a mental hospital, believing he is in Heaven, and imagines an argument with God over human nature. The book ends with The Narrator's being approached by hospital employees who reveal themselves to be Project members. They tell him their plans still continue, and that they are expecting Tyler Durden to come back.
Adaptation to movieEdit
In 1999, director David Fincher adapted the novel into a film of the same name, starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. Despite it's perceived failure at the box-office, the film would later go on to become a cult classic, beloved by many as one of the greatest fight movies of all time.