Fighting Back Against Societal Norms

David Colston

Mr. Cheatle ENG 112

November 8, 2013

                                   Fighting Back Against Societal Norms

            The story Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk starts out as a glimpse into the narrator’s routine, seemingly mundane life. He does not do much, and overall his life is just pretty boring. When his apartment burns down, he is forced to turn to a what is essentially a complete stranger in Tyler Durden and ask for help. As they spend time together and become friends, they decide to start this underground society for fighting, a society that would end up changing their outlook on the world forever. The two of them begin to see the materialistic, seemingly backwards way in which our society is run. They realize there is more to life than just an obsession with commercialism, a high paying job, and the traditional definition of happiness. This is what Palahniuk wants the reader to see. In Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk argues the dangers of blindly following the widely accepted norm for American living, as the unhappiness from this time period can very easily manifest itself in a very negative way. This is seen in the narrator’s drastic change from the beginning to the end of the story.

            In the beginning, the reader sees  the  seeming obsession the narrator has with commercial living. He follows what appears to be his take on the traditional American lifestyle. He has a decent job. He has some nice furniture. You know, what more could he want? At the beginning of the story, he probably would have told you nothing, as this is what he thought everyone wanted. He went along with it, and his obsession with the consumer and commercial lifestyle carried on. But what happens when the traditional American lifestyle only puts him in pit of despair? Not happy with his job, his social life, and his life in general, it is pretty easy for him to snap. All it took was the burning of his apartment… and Tyler, of course.

            How the narrator responds to living with his new friend is somewhat interesting, mainly because Tyler is not the most normal of people. His life immediately changes, as everything he has is poured into the club. The club quickly becomes more, though, as the narrator becomes more and more convinced that he has the reach “bottom” if he ever truly wants to find, and moreover make something of himself. He becomes not only reckless but dangerous. He puts other people in harms way as he says it is all part of his plan for Project Mayhem – or Tyler’s plan, that is. He realizes at the end that Tyler was never alive other than inside his own head. He had been living in a world that he hated for such a long time that he felt it was necessary to create somebody to escape it. It is only in his realization that he had been lying to himself that he understands what he feels, and his outlook on life is his, and not Tyler or anyone else’s. He shows this realization at the end of the story when he says, “We are not special. We are not crap or trash, either. We just are.” 


2 thoughts on “Fighting Back Against Societal Norms

  1. hudelsfs

    I think this is a really great analysis about how people blindly follow anything that is popular in mass culture. Your argument could be improved if you use more direct evidence and quotes to support your thesis.


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