Upon watching the movie again, after having read the book, I picked up on many similarities, as well as differences between the two. Obviously there are several key similarities in the story and movie, for instance the plot, theme, and most of the ideas remain constant between the two. The main differences come in how the two prove the points they are trying to make. In the book, there is no way for the reader to see the constant appearances of Tyler at random points before the narrator’s apartment catches on fire. Tyler flickers in and out of vision (never with the narrator noticing), nonetheless the frequency he is seen increases as the narrator grows closer and closer to his transformation ,as if Tyler is slowly coming into and taking over his life. I liked this about the movie, as it just showed another way as to how early this idea of Tyler Durden was surfacing in the narrator’s head. There were other things I liked about the movie in relation to the book, but the other big thing was how they portrayed Marla. In both she is supposed to be the reason this had all begun, there is no question about that. It is interesting the extent the narrator is observing his own actions from a third person point of view, something that is very prevalent in the movie. It helped build on the fact that he had no idea of what was going on, and that he really had become two different people in a way. The constant sex and anger the Tyler part of him shows toward Marla in the movie also furthers the point that they are opposites, as it highlights the id of Tyler and the ego of himself. These things all help build the meaning of the story that can best be shown in the form of film.
“You buy the furniture. You tell yourself this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug.
Then you’re trapped in your lonely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you”
This passage really spoke to me as it speaks to Palahuinik’s argument against the commercial and consumer lifestyle so many people live. We see how it over takes him. The way he writes this passage actually seems like its so structured, so commonplace, it is almost robotic. It is like he is checking off items from a grocery shopping list. Got this. Check that, and so on. The point that he is really trying to make in this passage is seen at the very end of this quote, when he points out that “the things you used to own, now they own you”. People become so engrossed in the consumer lifestyle that nothing else seems to matter to them. They turn to it for protection, for comfort, and do escape from their horribly dull and unimportant lives. This is a chain that must be broken, as the narrator, as well as Palahunik wants to prove. This is the best way in which he can prove that.
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.”
In this passage we see a frustrated narrator in need of releasing his anger, which he does on the first rookie that he notices standing in the crowd. Tyler has a strong reaction to this act, and shortly after the reader sees his somewhat sadistic commitment to the club and the people in it. He feels the need project mayhem in order to extend fight club and take their anger out on the people that cause it. This passage shows his commitment to the idea that there are good men that are forced into doing unfit work for unfair people. He is showing here about how he is trying to stand up for the little guy, but the measures he is taking are incredibly extreme. The anger he feels towards society in general manifests himself in a very negative, almost disgusting manner, and this is where the real argument lies… that anger as pure as this can only do more harm than good in a society.
The film Gattaca provided a glimpse at a futuristic society in which any genetic sequencing left up to chance was seen as an unnecessary risk, and those that were conceived naturally were treated as liabilities to the advancement of their society. Vincent Freeman, the main character in the film learns as a young boy that he is and will always be looked at as inferior to the superior race of genetically modified individuals. He works hard at assuming the identity of Jerome Morrow, someone whose genes were controlled during birth. It is in his struggle to meet the societal norm and be accepted to the space program of his dreams that Andrew Niccol, the author of the film makes his argument known. Andrew Niccol argues in Gattaca that the systematic regulation of characteristics and control of how people operate never works out as it is intended to.
This is seen in multiple facets of the story, first and foremost it is found in the irony that a genetically “superior” individual such as Jerome Morrow would become handicapped in the first place while Vincent, a person who was barely given a chance at life by his doctors is the one that ends up reaching space. It is also seen in Vincent beating Anton in their swimming competitions, as Niccol again tries to prove that genetic purity has nothing to do with talent or heart, and thus controlling genes does nothing. Finally, the parallels between this “superior breed” or “new race” of people and the Aryan-craze of Nazi Germany are astounding, further building upon the terrifying nature of it all.
Margaret Atwood explores a number of societal issues throughout The Handmaid’s Tale, including everything from the rights of women to the general effect religion has on a theocracy such as Gilead. A more minor, yet prevalent idea that is made throughout the novel is Atwood’s argument against the overwhelming deindividuation shown in their society. Atwood argues in The Handmaid’s Tale that mandated conformity leads solely to the loss of one’s identity, but also toys with the mental and physiological well being of the people living in the society. She proves this by first highlighting the ridiculously over-zealous regulations put in place to ensure the obedience of the conformity Gilead strives for, and through the actions of the people (most notably those of higher privilege and rank in their ever-so oppressive society).
Atwood begins by highlighting the strict rules and regulations that ensure people maintain the state of conformity and uniformity that is so coveted in their environment. This is perfectly exemplified by the government of Gilead’s controlled hanging of things that were not even criminal at the time they were committed. Look at the doctors, for instance. These were men that facilitated abortions before the war, when abortions were legal. The regulations and laws are not only strict, but the way they choose to enforce them is unprecedented and seemingly unfair. That being said, this is the only way they feel they can keep “order” in society, by keeping them oppressed.
This oppression only leads to the loss of convictions and beliefs of the people, though. You can point to anyone of the average citizens in this chapter and see how the forced conformity effects them and their ability to pursue the causes or beliefs they might like to. This is even more interesting when examining the officials actions, though. One would rightfully assume that the people that implemented these harsh rules upon their society would be happy with how things are going, however looking at Commander Fred, Offred’s superior, it is apparent that this is not true in the slightest. He has completely lost his interest in what is going on in Gilead, and he himself feels the need to break the rules that he was in charge of creating in the first place. His paradoxical behavior must have to do with his apathy for the system they created – whether it is because of a secret reservation he still holds regarding it, or if he is just bored with only mating with people everyday – the oppression and mandated conformity is not allowing him to obtain fulfillment.
It is clear that the system itself is very, very strict and wants nothing more than the conformity of their society to their ideals. What is more important is just how everyone – including the superiors – are effected.
In my mind, the “Historical Notes” section of The Handmaid’s Tale was used primarily to further some of the points that come up time and time again throughout the novel. The main point that she really wants to hammer home is her idea that the state of constant oppression which these people live under cannot be broken unless there are more brave souls who are willing to rebel and risk their lives to put an end to the horrible way in which they all are currently living. She uses Offred as her example throughout the story, and most notably here.
Atwood further depicts Offred’s devotion and dedication to ridding their society of the horrible oppression they face by simply showing her rebellion. In the story, Offred does not have any idea what might come over her actions. She waits for the truck to take her away. She has zero knowledge as to whether or not she will be persecuted for her actions, a sad reality that speaks to the inability to stand out or speak out against Gilead. She contrasts this with her epilogue, where she shows how Offred’s actions have actually bettered the society substantially. She remakes the maps, and immediately shifts back to a society that places emphasis on learning, but even moreover on individuality.
It is clear that Atwood attempts to show the contrast between the two endings in order to show the differences between what life is really like for them, where they have to be concerned about acting against the slightest of rebellions, and a properly run society in which changes are made for the better of the people.