Connection Between "Fight Club" and Philosophers Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Jean-Paul Sartre.
From an existentialism point of view, there is no right or wrong choice, since one gives an action value by the virtue of choosing it. Choices can only be judged on how involved the decision maker is when making it. Judging by this standard, the narrator is justified in killing Tyler, since he fully became involved in choosing to both accept and reject Tyler’s values by that action. “Existentialism’s first move is to make every man aware of what he is and to make the full responsibility of his existence rest on him.
His second epiphany occurs when he shoots Tyler, and thus himself. On the first level, the narrator acknowledges his death instincts by confronting his fear of pain and death. He accepts Tyler’s ideas of experiencing death so as to be fully conscious of his physical existence. When he shoots Tyler, he does so with the awareness that he is shooting himself. This is the final step he needs to take in order to be fully aware of what he is. On the second level, by rejecting Tyler’s nihilistic ideas of destroying institutions and value systems, he chooses what values to stand for and thus creates his own purpose for himself. “In choosing his ethics, Man makes himself.” He also translates the belief in these values into the actual action of shooting Tyler, thus defining his existence through actual action. On the third level, by shooting Tyler, he assumes responsibility for all of Man, not just himself. He assumes responsibility for Man because he invents what Man should be: one who does not act in an uncaring and destructive manner towards others. On the fourth level, shooting Tyler allows the narrator to be defined in a way he wishes to be defined in the eyes of the “other”. Shooting Tyler is crucial towards removing the existence of Project Mayhem.
In her critical analysis of the film version of the novel, “Hurt So Good: Fight Club, Masculine Violence, and the Crisis of Capitalism”, Lynn M. Ta suggests this description of American culture exhibits “an anxiety about masturbatory commercialism by locating the cause of [the narrator’s] seeming loss of masculinity in the proliferation of consumer culture, thereby making participation in capitalism, once considered an entrepreneurial and male endeavor, a feminine activity” (Ta 273).In “Fight Club: Historicizing the Rhetoric of Masculinity, Violence, and Sentimentality”, Suzanne Clark puts forth the theory that the idea of the “domestic, consuming individual (object of middle-class desire) is feminine” (Clark 413). It is this domestic, feminine world that we see our narrator fighting against. The novel, then, reasserts the masculine identity which is threatened by the feminization of an increasingly consumerist American culture. This said, Palahniuk’s nameless protagonist, in an effort to regain his lost masculinity, must create Tyler Durden, his alter ego.
In the final analysis, this dominance is what turned the Narrator and Tyler, into leaders strong enough to command a small army of men. Together these men are free enough to alter the course of history and shake the foundations of modern society. By doing all of these things, the Narrator and Tyler could appeal to the inner nature of men. In the real world, men are forced to suppress their inner nature. This leads to a society full of men who allow themselves to be slaves to a lifestyle that they really do not want to be a part of. Modern men are not happy, they simply are doing what they need to do to preserve their own lives.
Fincher. Fight Club. 20th Century Fox, 1999.
Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. New York: W. W. Norton, 1996. Print.
Clark, Suzanne. “Fight Club: Historicizing the Rhetoric of Masculinity, Violence, and Sentimentality.” Journal of Men’s Studies 11.1 (2002): 65-76.
Freud, Signmund. “Mourning and Melancholia.” Collected Papers, Volume 4. London: Hogarth Press Ltd., 1925. 152-170
Kennett, Paul. “Fight Club and the Dangers of Oedipal Obsession.” Stirrings Still 2 (2005): 48-64.
Ta, Lynn. “Hurt So Good: Fight Club, Male Violence, and the Crisis of Capitalism.” Journal of American Culture 29 (2006): 265-77.