IN CHUCK PALAHNIUK’S FIGHT CLUB
AN UNDERGRADUATE THESIS
Presented as Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Sarjana Sastra
in English Letters
EKA ADI NUGRAHA Student Number : 994214056
ENGLISH LETTERS STUDY PROGRAMME
FACULTY OF LETTERS
SANATA DHARMA UNIVERSITY
IN CHUCK PALAHNIUK’S FIGHT CLUB
AN UNDERGRADUATE THESIS
Presented as Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Sarjana Sastra
in English Letters
EKA ADI NUGRAHA
Student Number : 994214056
ENGLISH LETTERS STUDY PROGRAMME
FACULTY OF LETTERS
SANATA DHARMA UNIVERSITY
- Spiderman -
He who knows a ‘why’ for living,
will surmount almost every how
I dedicate this thesis to:
God, Father, Mother, Dian, and Ida
I thank to God for endless blessing, lesson, gift, and even hardship that have shaped my momentous life and sculpted me as a better being than I was. High-regard and prayer may always attribute for my biggest inspirer, Muhammad, his families, companions, and his devotees.
I would like to convey my indebtedness to my former advisor, Dr. Novita Dewi, M.S., M.A. for her guidance, assistance, and encouragement in working this thesis. I should also like to express my gratitude to my major sponsor, Gabriel Fajar Sasmita Aji, S.S., M. Hum, for his guidance in completing this thesis. My gratitude also goes to the lecturers and staffs of English Letters Department for their aids during my study in Sanata Dharma University.
I would also like to express my gratitude to my beloved family: my father, Sudaryono, and my mother, Suparmi, for their ceaseless love, support, patience, and pray. I understand it takes a lot not to give up on me. I also thank especially to my sisters: Dian Anggraeni and Ida Nuraini Dewi Kn for their support, joke and patience. I thank, once again, to my family for loving me.
I am grateful to my best buddies: Penya, Sukri, Singgih, Siest, Willy, and Imam that have shared experiences with me. I am grateful also to my friends at the Gupon, the Budijaya, and other friends that I could not mention one by one down here.
A. Review of Related Studies...…….………... 9
B. Review of Related Theories...……...………..10
1. Theory of Character and Characterization………...…...……10
2. Theory of the Feeling of Meaninglessness………11
3. Review on Cultural-historical Context of the United States in the 1990s..………...14
A. Depiction of the Characters……… 27
1. Depiction of the Character “I”……….. 28
2. Depiction of the Character Tyler Durden..………37
B. The Feeling of Meaninglessness of the 1990’s Young Urban Americans in Chuck Palahniuk’sFight Club……….. 50
1. Palahniuk’s Fight Club Reflects the Feeling of Meaninglessness of the 1990’s Young Urban Americans …………...…….………... 51
EKA ADI NUGRAHA. The Feeling of Meaninglessness of the 1990’s Young Urban Americans in Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. Yogyakarta: Department of English Letters, Faculty of Letters, Sanata Dharma University, 2007
Meaning of life is something that is essential in a human’s life without which a person would be profoundly preoccupied by the sense of purposelessness and futility in his/her life. In the novel of Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, The character “I” represents a person who feels that his life is empty and meaningless. His decision to escape from facing such meaninglessness leads him to meet with Tyler Durden, his split character, who then teaches him to deal with the pain caused by such meaninglessness.
This thesis is aimed at solving two problems. The first problem is the characterization of the characters (the character “I” and Tyler Durden). The second problem is the revelation of the the feeling of meaninglessness of the 1990’s young urban Americans communicated by the novel.
The method applied in this thesis is the library research. The data are Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club and other sources that closely related to the topic discussed in this thesis. The approach applied in this thesis is the socio-cultural historical approach. There were four processes that are done respectively in analyzing this novel. The first was having a thorough reading of the novel. The second was compiling and reading some references and theories needed by this thesis. The third was was to meet the theory with the data and information that had been compiled, to employ the approach, and to conduct the analysis within the scope of the questions constructed in problem formulation. The last process was drawing the conclusion.
EKA ADI NUGRAHA. The Feeling of Meaninglessness of the 1990’s Young Urban Americans in Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. Yogyakarta: Department of English Letters, Faculty of Letters, Sanata Dharma University, 2007
Arti hidup adalah sesuatu yang esensial dalam kehidupan seorang manusia, yang tanpanya seseorang akan sangat tersakiti oleh suatu rasa ketidakmemiliki tujuan dan ketidakbergunaan yang menguasai hidupnya. Dalam novel karya Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, si karakter “aku” mewakili seseorang yang merasa bahwa hidupnya terasa kosong dan tanpa arti. Keputusannya untuk melarikan diri dari berhadapan dengan perasaan ketidakberartian membawanya untuk bertemu dengan Tyler Durden, karakter keduanya, yang kemudian mengajarnya untuk menghadapi suatu kesakitan yang diakibatkan oleh ketidakberatian tersebut.
Thesis ini bertujuan memecahkan dua permasalahan. Permasalahan pertama adalah penjabaran para karakter (karakter “aku” dan Tyler Durden). Permasalahan kedua adalah novel ini untuk mengkomunikasikan perasaan ketidakberartian yang dialami orang-orang muda kota di Amerika pada dekade 90-an.
Metode yang diterapkan dalam thesis ini adalah studi pustaka. Data-data yang digunakan adalah novel karya Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, dan sumber-sumber lain yang erat kaitannya dengan objek yang didiskusikan dalam thesis ini. Pendekatan yang digunakan dalam analisis di tesis ini adalah socio-cultural-historical. Terdapat empat proses yang akan diselesaikan secara urut untuk menganalisa novel tersebut. Langkah pertama adalah membaca novel tersebut secara menyeluruh. Langkah kedua adalah mengumpulkan, dan membaca referensi-referensi dan teori-teori yang dibutuhkan oleh thesis ini. Langkah ketiga adalah merangkaikan teori dengan data-data, menerapkan pendekatan yang dibutuhkan dan mengerjakan analisis dalam cakupan pertanyaan-pertanyaan yang telah disusun di rumusan permasalahan. Process terakhir adalah membuat kesimpulan
A. Background of the Study
The 1990s was the age in which some new young writers who shared a common subject were born. These young witers chronicle creatively and comment critically on the current problem of the contemporary culture while, at the same time, offer a new awareness and insight into reality of our stale daily experience that has been so dominated with materialism tendency. They are comparable to a generation of writers labelled as “the lost generation” in their eagerness to express their fears, doubts and frustrations through writing. If the writer of lost generation’s fears and frustration were originated from the experience of war, this new lost generations’ frustration is caused by their confusion to cope with the sense of loss and futility of the late American culture. The tide of this new lost generation was begun in Douglas Coupland’s Generation X. It was followed then by Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, and Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. Shortly after the publication of these works, the emergence of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club endures the attack of the new lost generation on such ailing culture. Being specifically distinct in style, these new generation of writers share a common tendency revealed in their effor t to crystallize the anxiety and frustration of contemporary generation live in the late culture of improvement .
introduces us to a realm of ever-wonder and confusion when many things that used to be of fantasy has now been represented in its ultimate shape, such as Disneyland, Seaworld, supersonic train, picnic to the moon and let alone the internet that enables us to do time and space travel. We have conceived, on the one hand, that all these new realities may indicate progress and improvement. On the other hand, we could have perceived that there are many problems are left unsolved by the work of this predominant culture, such as environmental damage, emasculation of local values and virtues, irresponsible freedom of the media, children pornography, politics turns into spectacle, a culture of cynicism for us to fix. Nevertheless, this is not simply the double-standard thing of the late modernism. Christopher Lasch in The Culture of Narcissism states that such paradox that is coexisting in today’s age has weighted down individuals with uncertainty just to define what is real that is indispensable to get relief from the void of meaning and lack of direction (Lasch, 1979: 169-170). In fact, such circumstances become the very engine of this new lost generation’s works.
Amongst those figures of the new lost generation, Chuck Palahniuk comes out as the most popular figure. His first novel, published in 1997, gained several awards, yet having adapted into film with the same title, its paperback edition was sold over 300,000 copies (www.stirrings-still.orgss22.pdf), particularly among young people who are known for their reluctance to read. Moreover, the charm of his novel Fight Club had transcend some of its core readership to bring fight clubthe club founded by the character “I” of the
these reasons, it would be reasonable to credit him as the spokesman for these previously mentioned generation of writers who have strong tendency to scrutinize the anxiety and frustration of the contemporary generation live in the late culture of improvement.
Presumably, psychological affliction in concomitant with violence is apparently central to the story. It may correspond to the feeling of meaninglessness or inner frustration have afflicted thousands of young people in the U.S. (http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/jan1996/v52-4-article.htm). However, the novel still spares many spaces to discuss various other impacts of contemporary culture of improvement, that is not less significant to be discussed, such as support group culture, which is prevailing lately in the U.S., the idea of self-destruction in comparison with the predominance of self-improvement culture, emasculation of manliness, the ever struggle for authenticity (http://roger.ucsd.edu/search/htm). Such apocalyptic issues that Palahniuk evokes in Fight Club do not necessarily to reflect the pessimistic voice of the author. It is perhaps a mere sort of strategy to defamiliarize our faded perception on something which we have faced everyday, or, perhaps, it could be the genuine description of today horror situation that goes unnoticed from our perception. Despite the previous presumption, those issues can be appropriatedthanks to himto
mirror today’s contemporary culture through the reflection of which we could perceive some of its flaws.
resulting meaningless daily experience. The character “I” in this story is desperately longing for a change in his life. The emergence of Tyler Durden with all of his revolutionary things as the ultimate embodiment of his crave for such a change seems to provide the character “I” with many experiences the character “I” never had been familiar with. Moreover, Tyler Durden does not merely provide the character “I” with many “new” experiences, he provides also the character “I” with lesson through which he is encouraged to view his life from a different perspective and, thus, renew the way he responds situation in his life. Thus, while the novel attempts to portray the mass anxiety of today’s young urban Americans, namely feeling of meaninglessness, it seemingly tries to offer a stance to such a feeling of meaninglessness that may inspire its readers to re-evaluate the way they live.
B. Problem Formulation
In order to bring into view the focus of this thesis so as to make it better organized, it is necessary to set up some questions that will be answered throughout this thesis.
The process of which thesis is conducted can be framed at the questions formulated below:
1. How are the characters (the character “I” and Tyler Durden) depicted in Palahniuk’s Fight Club?
meaninglessness of the 1990s young urban Americans?
C. The Objective of the Study
This thesis is primarily aimed to answer the questions set up in the Problem Formulation. From two questions constructed in the problem formulation, it is obvious that the focus of this thesis lies in the depiction of the character “I” and his alter personality, namely Tyler Durden, in the novel. Such focus is intended to bring into view the reality that has been captured and reproduced in the novel.
With regard to the fact that Fight Club, which is the object of this thesis, is presented through the perspective of an uncertain narrator, it is important, then, to know and understand his characteristics. Such understanding is crucial in order to comprehend what Fight Club says about. Therefore, the main objective of this thesis is to know how the character “I” is depicted in the story. Nevertheless, since the character “I” of Fight Club is afflicted with a sort of personality disorder by which he has another personality, known as Tyler Durden, it is ineluctable for this thesis to understand as well the character of Tyler Durden.
Club to contextualize the feeling of meaninglessness of the 1990s young urban Americans.
D. Definition of Terms
To make a better understanding on the discussion in this thesis, it would be necessary to understand some essential terms used in this thesis. They are: 1. Self-improvement
In this thesis, the term self-improvement refers generally to today’s late capitalism culture in which the individuals’ tendency is aimed at material success, improvement, and completeness. Such tendency is framed in the intention of experiencing the pleasure of possessing things and, more important, presenting a decent self-image as a successful, respectable, significant kind of person. Therefore, self-improvement is the orientation of the individuals in today’s late capitalist society that aimed at fulfilling immediate pleasure by means of material posession and improvement.
2. Feeling of Meaninglessness
A. Review of Related Studies
Henry A. Giroux in his criticism to Palahniuk’ Fight Club mentions,
“Representations of violence, masculinity, and gender in Fight Club seem all too willing to mirror the pathology of individual and institutional violence that informs the American landscape, extending from all manner of hate crimes to the far right’s celebration of paramilitary and protofascist subcultures” (http://roger.ucsd.edu/search/htm).
Despite his opinion quoted above that implied the way Palahniuk’s Fight Club reflects its socio-cultural problems, he argues that Fight Club has reduced the violence as one significant social problem to senseless brutality and an indifference to human suffering. Jesse Kavadlo, in his writing about Palahniuk’s Fight Club’s aesthetic and moral imperatives, argues that Giroux’ latter argument shows that he has been trapped to read the novel as a story about Tyler and his
way Palahniuk kept secret his sexual background as a significant means to
alternatively read Palahniuk’s works, particularly Fight Club, Kavadlo notifies
that the act of violence and rebellion discussed in Fight Club has concealed the
more crucial issue the novel attempts to communicate, that of the long suffering
for spiritual fulfilment (www.stirrings-still.orgss22.pdf). Hence, he suggests
readers to pay more attention to the novel’s subtext and implication rather than its
context or language.
Kavadlo’s argument about the way Fight Club attempts to communicate
the long suffering for spiritual fulfilment is supported by Antonio Casado de
Rocha’s writing about disease and community in Palahniuk’s early works. He
considers that the rebellion in the novel is aimed at the commodification of life
and to articulate human response to such a dehumanization of life. He believes
that the crisis afflicts the characters in Fight Club is existential crisis; to live a
more authentic life (www.stirrings-still.orgss22.pdf).
This thesis agrees to Giroux’s writing to the extent that Fight Club
reflects the socio-cultural problems occurred in the U.S. This thesis will employ
Kavadlo’s suggestion on the peculiar way to read Fight Club. This thesis
combines Henry A. Giroux’s (2001), Jesse Kavadlo’s (2005) and Antonio Casado
de Rocha’s study (2005) on the way the novel attempts to communicate the inner
crisis of the individuals in urban society and to reveal the way such an inner crisis
B. Review of Related Theories
In order to answer the question stated in problem formulation, it will be
helpful to discuss briefly the theories that will be employed later in analysing the
novel. Those theories are as follows:
1. Theory of Character and Characterization
It is through its characters a story often presents its ideas, since through
the character can the readers identify themselves with. According to Abrams in A
Glossary of Literary Terms, characters are persons presented in dramatic or narrative work. The character is interpreted as having moral, disposition, and
emotional qualities through their action and their dialogues in the story(…..).
Harvey Birenbaum in The Happy Critic argues that a story often presents
its idea through the pattern of relationship among characters (Birenbaum, 1997:
132). A character must have particular personalities, characteristics, attitudes and
view of life that are used to distinguish him from other characters in a story.
Characterization is the way through which the author creates and presents the
figure, nature and qualities of the characters. In order to evaluate the
characterization of the characters, Birenbaum in suggests some aspects of
consideration, it comprises: “…how the characters are seenby the narrator and
other characters, how the characters see themselves, how they behave, what their
behaviour expresses, and what it conceals, how they experience themselves, and
According to Birenbaum, the attempt of the modern literature to break
off the old values has caused the emergence of a new conception of literary form
(1997: 146). The central character of a story was conventionally characterized as
the hero of the storywhether he triumphantly wins or tragically lose, still he is
the hero. Birenbaum mentions that the hero in a literary work is the center of
consciousness through whom readers experiences the other though, he adds, this
hero does not necessarily means that s/he is an admirable character (1997: 105).In
such new conception, the central character of a story is often characterized as
anti-hero. Anti-hero, Birenbaum notes, is a charactercentral or main characterthat
is characteristically described to posses the quality of an ordinary person (1997:
2. Theory of the Feeling of Meaninglessness
The feeling of meaninglessness is a term that is often used by Viktor E.
Frankl in his works, Psychotherapy and Existentialism and The Unheard Cry for
Meaning to mention the mental condition of a person whose life is profoundly afflicted by the sense of loss, futility, and emptiness when s/he is fail to fulfil the
will to meaning of life. This kind of feeling is less to do with one’s failure in his
struggle to gain material success, such as promotion in career, profit in trade,
academic achievementthough in someway it may be a factor of its emergence
and more to do with one’s ‘spiritual’ emptiness that in spite of his or her material
success in life, s/he feels that his or her life is purposeless. However, this is does
in The Unheard Cry for Meaning, one’ quest for meaning to life is human natural
and, indeed, a distinctive characteristic of being human and nothing pathological
(Frankl, 1985: 30). It refers rather to a mental distress than a mental disease or
simply means that one who experiences such a feeling cannot be regard mad
Frankl has proposed a symptomatology of such a mental frustration he
calls as mass neurotic triad. It comprises depression, addiction, and aggression.
Depression is emerged when one feels that his/her life seems lack of direction. In
this situation, one often does not know what he wants to do. S/he fells profoundly
that his/her life is purposeless and, hence, meaningless. In its extremity, such
depression might lead one to wish for suicide. Frankl finds that the drug
involvement and the addiction to alcohol are strongly related with one’s purpose
in life. He states that the one’s attraction to drugs and alcohol is often grounded by
the desire to find meaning in life and the search for meaningful experience (1985:
28-29). Frankl contends that aggression never exists by itself. Rather, it exists as a
response one takes against something or toward which one takes a response
against (Frankl, 1985: 80). Further, Frankl states that the notion of aggression is
closely related with one’s search for tensionan artificial tension, since, he said,
not only too much tension but lack of tension will result an inner frustration
(Frankl, 1985: 106-107).
Feeling of meaninglessness does not merely caused by difficult
condition of a person’s life. It possibly threatens even a person whose life seems
in life may be found even when a person experiences hopeless situation or facing
a fate that cannot be changed. This kind of meaning fulfilment is on the way that
such a person is able to transform his tragedy or suffering into a personal triumph.
Frankl identifies this kind of person as homo patiens. In order to avoid confusion,
it would be helpful to draw a illustration Frankl has provided.
Homo sapiens, Frankl suggests, refers to ordinary man who know how to be
success. It moves between the success/failure axis. Homo patiens or, Frankl calls,
the suffering man is the man who know and able to transform his suffering into a
triumphant. It moves on fulfillment/despair axis. This illustration is useful to
explain that there are people who in spite of their successful lives are found
distress in despair and meaninglessness and, on the other hand, there are some
people who in spite of their failure are found in high spirits having fulfilled
meaning in his life.
To conclude, Frankl emphasizes that when a man can find the meaning
he seeks in his life, he will likely to experience suffering and torment, to offer
something to be sacrificed even if, in an extreme scale, it is his life for the sake of
person will seem lethargic to take his life even if all the means he needs to live
have been satisfied (1997: 20).
3. Review on Socio-cultural-historical Context of the United States in the
It was in the beginning of the 1990s, Americans were being introduced
with the term of ‘Angry White Male’. The term was not quite popular, since it
was not widely used. It was being used mostly in the political arena in the United
States to mention those urban people; working-class and lower-middle class, who
experienced scarcity opportunity to work in industrial jobs, since such jobs had
being displaced to rural areas or to third-world counties, such as Mexico
(www.beggarscanbechoosers.com/2007/06/angry-white-male-its-mostly-about-money.html). In order to enter other kind of job, they must compete with people
who have a better education and skill. These people, then, were thrown into low
paying service jobs. In short, they were people who feel out of place in the late
economy of computers and high technology. However, the term ‘Angry White
Male’ used in this thesis is not mentioned to include any sociological problem,
particularly the racial problem that opposes the white people, statistically in
numbers as the majority of the American with other people from the statistically
minority races. Rather, it is used simply with the consideration refers to numbers.
The fact that may be understood from the phenomena of the angry white male is
that the sense of promising future that was flourishing in the postwar period was
feel useless and less significant to work in such a job that mostly considered
Certainly, such reflection is not a generalization. At this period, the
sense of economic opportunity had been decreasing in the United States and
standard work becoming increasingly unavailable to the urban people
(http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/jan1996/v52-4-article.htm). The sense of
economic insecurity was particularly being experienced by the young workers in
the work force who had once lived in fairly good economic family. They
supposedly grew up to foster a dream that they could own more than that of their
parent. Experienced such difficult economic situation, these American young
workers maintained to work harder and longer with the intention of material
accumulation. Such gesture may reflect that these American young workers had
not yielded their desire to economic security and material comfort. However, such
desire is understandable, since it was the age where the role model was not
anymore a kind of humble person, but instead a media-star with all his
materialistic splendor. Thus, it became intolerable for these young people of being
unsuccessful person, or simply a loser. It is then understood that their desire to
obtain material progress was framed within a higher desire, that of to appear as
successful person. Such a goal had consequently forced these urban young people
to tolerate working in jobs they were unprepared for
(www.beggarscanbechoosers.com/2007/06/angry-white-male-its-mostly-about-money.html). Thus, the sense of declining economic opportunity did not merely
experienced also by those who had been in the work force. Instead of gaining their
wage raised, it remained stagnant or, worse, declined
(http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/jan1996/v52-4-article.htm). The word future and
‘career’, therefore, remained unarticulated.
The diminishing sense of future and the loss sense of self-belonging and
the threat to one’s self-esteem that occurred in the U.S. after the period of its
industrial transition or, Donald L. Kanter in The Cynical American says,
de-industrialization (Kanter, 1989: 138) has inevitably caused the sense of self fell
into crisis. Heavily distressed and disappointed by their reality, it was reasonable
that many of these urban young people attempted to seek a way to cope with
predominant sense of loss, anger, emptiness, and meaninglessness that
The most popular means these urban young people embraced to cope
with their inner frustration was consumerism. Although consumerism was not a
culture peculiar to the 1990s, it had been transformed with different background
and motive. Consumerism had since long ago been promoted as a way of life that
people, particularly in urban society, were to conform. In the nineties, it was
offered not simply as a way of life, but a kind of answer to disappointment in life.
It promised to fill the empty void of the American urban people who experienced
the economic insecurity and upcoming uncertainty of the resulting of the change
in its industry. The anxiety that preoccupied the 1990s American young workers
has consequently dissolved all together the old values their parents had taught to
replaced by a prevalent passion to live for the moment. Such ethical
transformation could not, of course, be separated from the role of media and
advertising that played seduction to these disappointed young workers. Indeed,
Wachtel in his reflection states,
“ …[W]e have sought to quell the vulnerability through our possession. When we can buy nice new things, when we look around and see our homes well stocked and well equipped, we feel strong and expansive rather than small and endangered.” (Wachtel:…)
As Wachtel reflects, the nineties American young people bestowed a meaning
upon their devalued lives through consumption.
Advertising, as the main engine of consumerism, that had victimized
women began to prey man as well in the nineties. The shift from industrial and
manufacturing based to a service and information-based economy according to
Susan Faludi, had offered men fewer and fewer meaningful occupation
(http://roger.ucsd.edu/search/htm). To cure the sense of disappointment,
advertising seductively promised men a way to gain back meaning of men’s
existence through presenting images of successful or heroic man for men to
emulate with. Such images of successful man scattered in various product of
advertisement, from car, suits and clothes to hair spray, body spray or perfume,
face cream, moisturizer, even furniture and interior stuff. In these images, the term
success symbolized or referred to, according to Dianne Barthel in her writing
Jack Salomon (eds.), 1997: 145 – 154). Hence, men entered an identity crisis in
which the old opposition between masculine and feminine has been so blurred.
Another thing meant by the 1990s young American to alleviate their pain
of inner frustration was to consume self-help book. It was reported by the trade
publication American Bookseller that during the period from 1991 – 1996 there
was inclining trend in self-help book sales. In fact, by the beginning of 1998, the
total sales for books categorized as self-help book was constituted to 581 million
dollars U.S. (http://www.selfhelpinc.com/excerpt). Such fact was in contrast with
the decline of the publishing industry for several unsupported factors. Such
phenomena, however, occurred at the same time when American must face the
period where future becomes uncertain, insecurity in economic condition and the
acute sense of meaningless life. Thus, it was not surprising that psychological and
spiritual theme was dominant subject in so many self-help books. Something that
can be induced from such a fact is that there were hunger in the shelves of those
exhausted new breed workers of the nineties for emotional and spiritual
immediacy. This was due to a reason that after spending many hours in their job,
these workers must spend some time more to improve themselves through joining
trainings or courses, continuing their study and perfecting their appearance just so
they remained in the competition. Supposedly, there was barely enough time to
maintain intimate interpersonal relationship. To fill their emotional emptiness,
therefore, self-help book seemed to provide perfect answer. Other possible reason
was the diminishing self-esteem of the resulting uncertain reality they were to
Other thing that similar with self-help book is the culture of support
group or twelve-step program that was so prevailing in the U.S. during nineties.
The economic insecurity experienced by many American workers’ families has
eroded the interpersonal relationship among the family members or the larger
community. The sense of crisis made people to focus so sharply on their own need
that they had ground apart from others. Such attitude, then, had them to lose their
capacity for intimacy and community. When eventually their struggle to gain the
sense of well being were failed, they ended up sad in loneliness and depression;
drunk, smoke, eat a lot, go to prostitute, etc. Longing for such intimacy they
gathered themselves to support each other against the forces that threaten their
lives. Until recently, it is reported that such a community as support group or
encounter group is still prevailing in the United States
Along with the massive consumption that overwhelmed the U.S. in the
nineties, the uncertain condition had inescapably raised violent and destructive
activities. The jobs that were open in the economic transition from heavy industry
to service and technological industry required good deal of education and skills
that many people from lower-middle class could not afford. Disappointed working
in low paying service jobs or, at all, unemployed, the sense of pride and
confidence of many American young men diminished. Lost meaning in life
saturated the U.S. during the nineties. Hence, violence as pathological response of
spiritual search for self-identity became epidemic. Gibson Winter in his writing
“…[V]iolence and threats of violence are present in all parts of America. The bombing of Federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, the spread of militias, the increase in abused of women and children, the escalating numbers of rapes, the constant threats against government agents who try to enforce rules…terrorist bombings of family-planning clinic…reflect a deep crisis of violence in American life” (http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/jan1996/v52-4-article3.html).
The horror condition in American society had increasingly perceivable as
‘spiritual’ or inner frustration. White males, who felt that their lives have been
stolen by immigrant, women, or people from minority races, gathered themselves
in racist group like skinheads or white separatist community or many various kind
of progressive movements in urban area in the U.S.. All these violent activities
makes clear of how hunger for sense of identity and hope for the future fuel this
Nevertheless, the violence that was saturating the U.S. in the nineties,
did not merely take form physical destructive and nihilistic action as it has
previously been mentioned, but also another kind of violence in the form of
cynicism. The fact that the U.S. had lost it’s heavy industry in the midst of
eighties and has lost many more in the beginning of nineties by the increase of
service, professional and technological industry, makes such a cynicism
understandable. Studies by Kanter shows that many American young people
seeking blue-collar job believed that they were less able than their parents to find
a job with long-term security. He finds out that many of these youth, who were
eventually going into the service industries, experienced downward mobility
(Kanter, 1989: 138 – 139). The uncertainty and the economic insecurity that
less education, skill and income. But, Kanter shows that many new-breed young
American workers who have a higher level of education, social security and
income found themselves cold and lonely in their struggle to cope with their sense
of purposelessness (Kanter: 143). Such facts show that the condition in the 1990s
had caused many people, especially young people who were readily to enter the
workforce or some new faces in the workforce to lose their dreams and
expectation and left them embittered and cynical.
The change that marked the decade transition from the eighties to the
nineties in the U.S. is, as it has been acknowledged, the change in its industry
from heavy industry to service industry. Such change seems promising for many
youth who had entered and who were to enter the workforce. Kanter and Mirvis
see this optimism was derived from these urban young people’s expectation,
particularly with regard to money and financial success that exceed their parents’
(Kanter: 149). Unfortunately, by contrast to their expectation, the fact in the field
showed somewhat contradictive.
To sum up, high competition in the workforce caused many people, who
failed to compete with other, were thrown to low paying service jobs and caused
many others, who have been in the workforce, had to tolerate to work with static
or, worse, declining income and caused some, who were less lucky, become sad
or angry in despair. Experiencing such uncertain condition, many of these urban
American young men lost their sense of belonging and, certainly, their hope for
seek meaning of life through consumption, violence, cynicism, self-help book,
therapeutic support group or twelve-step program.
C. Theoretical Framework
There are three theories used in this study: the theory of character and
characterzation, socio-cultural-historical review of the United States during the
1990, and the theory of the feeling of meaninglessness. These theories will be
employed to answer the objective of these thesis constructed in problem
The theory of character consists of explanation about the character and
characterization. It is used along with theory of characterization to give an
understandable description of the central character[s] in the novel and to reveal
the characteristic of the central character[s]. The socio-cultural-historical review
of the United States during the 1990 is used along with theory of the feeling of
meaninglessness will be employed to reveal the manifestation of the feeling of
meaninglessness in the novel and the way it reflects the American urban young
people’s feeling of meaninglessness during the nineties. This last theory,
particularly in its illustration on meaninglessness and suffering that distinguishes
man from his/her ability to fulfil meaning in life is used to reveal the way the
novel stands as a response to such psychological phenomenon of inner frustration
or feeling of meaninglessness.
A. Object of the Study
The object of study is Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. It is a novel that portrays an urban young man who is profoundly overcome by the sense of emptiness in life, namely the feeling of meaninglessness, and his attempt to cope with such a feeling.
This book is United Kingdom version of the United States original version, which was published by W.W. Norton & Company Ltd. The copyright of the original version was in 1996 by Chuck Palahniuk. The United Kingdom version was published in 1997 by Vintage, London.
The original hardcover edition of the book received many reviews and won some awards; the 1997 Pacific Northwest Bookseller Association Award and the 1997 Oregon Book Award for Best Novel. Yet, it was adapte d into a film, which used the same title, distributed by the 20t h Fox Century in 1999. The book had been re-released three times in paperback, in 1999, in 2004 and in 2005.
any way out to change meaningless condition of his life. While he tries to cope with the inner pain given by his meaningless life, he nurture a wish to be someone else who can deal and solve such meaninglessness. Tyler Durden is the figure incarnated from his wish. Tyler helps the narrator to deal with the feeling of meaninglessness that threatens his life and to have courage to face such an inner problem. Presented from the perspective of an uncertain narrator, Palahniuk’s Fight Club offers a caustic, unsettled, and insightful glance at the American urban socio-culture in the late capitalism that beneath its phenomenological improvement and advancement lies covert psychological threat of futility and meaninglessness that has caused many young people confuse, furious, and suffered.
B. Approach of the Study
the novel responds the very culture that gave its birth and, therefore, reveals the significance of the novel in its socio-cultural-historical context.
This thesis focuses on the feeling of meaninglessness as it seems to preoccupy many people described in the novel and as socio-psychological problem that seemingly has been transformed as socio-cultural phenomenon in the United States during the publication and the consumption of the novel. Employing the approach, the thesis attempt to reveal the way the novel reflects such a socio-cultural-historical phenomenon of the 1990s American urban young people’s inner frustration and the way the novel stands as response to it.
C. Method of the Study
In order to fulfil the objectives of this thesis, this thesis used library research method. Using this method, this thesis attempted to collect some theories needed in this thesis and many information that related to the socio-cultural condition in the United States during 1990s and the feeling of meaninglessness. This thesis would do also some research in the internet in order to gain more complete information to support some information compiled from the library research.
discussed in the novel and other texts had been found, while sometimes raising some critical questions some of which would be constructed as the problem formulation of this thesis.
The second process was to arrange all findings collected from the first process into two parts. The first part is the compilation of information and theories that is going to be used to analyse the character and characterization and the second part is the compilation of information and theories was going to be used to reveal the way Palahniuk’s Fight Club contextualize the feeling of meaninglessness of the 1990s urban young Americans..
The third process was to refer the theory with the data and information that had been compiled and arranged, to employ the approach, and to conduct the analysis within the scope of the questions constructed in problem formulation.
A. Depiction of the Characters (the Character “I” and Tyler Durden) in
Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club
The central character in Chuck Palahniuk’ is the character “I” in this story. However, it must not be forgotten that his existence cannot be separated from another character, namely Tyler Durden. In fact, the character “I” and Tyler Durden exist in a relationship in which one is dependent on the other. the character “I” emphasises this dependency in the end of chapter I,
“I want Tyler…[but] Tyler doesn’t want around, not anymore. This isn’t about love as in caring. This is about the property in ownership” (Palahniuk: 14).
Entrapped in his desolation from the resulting meaningless daily experience, the character “I” is desperately longing for a change. The emergence of Tyler Durden with all of his revolutionary things seems to provide the character “I” with such a change since he is capable of introducing many experiences the character “I” never had been familiar with.
“Oh, This is bullshit. This is a dream. Tyler is a projection. He is a disassociative personality disorder. A psychogenic fugue state. Tyler is my hallucination. Fuck that shit, Tyler says” (Palahniuk, 1997: 168).
With regard to this thesis’ agreement to Giroux’s perspective that Fight Club
mimics the working of a today’s predominant culture, the relationship of these
characters (the character “I” and Tyler Durden) is considered, here, to provide
pictures of possible condition of today’s individuals that are inflicted very much
with the growing sense of uncertainty. Further, both characters relationship
provides the ‘form’ through which today’s reality is responded and valued in
some ways and thus, a certain ‘truth’ is revealed into our seeing. Harvey
Birenbaum in The Happy Critic argues that a story often presents its idea through
the pattern of relationship among characters and hrough the response the character
takes toward his world (Birenbaum, 1997: 132). Given this consideration, this
thesis attempts to reveal the way the both characters are depicted in the story in
order to understand the logic of one’s response to live in world in which the sense
of uncertainty has preoccupied everyone.
1. The Depiction of the Character ‘I’
The character “I” is nameless. Precisely, he is not simply nameless but
unwilling to mention his name.
“…[T]onight we introduce ourselves: I’m Bob, I’m Paul, I’m Terry, I’m David. I never give my real name ” (1997: 23).
Such unwillingness to mention his name has become a kind of natural gesture for
introduction. A name, for whatever reason he tends to hide, seems problematical
for him. In fact, his name remains unknown to the end of the story.
The character “I” is a middle-aged man who works as a recall campaign
coordinator of an automobile company in certain place in the United States. Such
occupation is surely not a kind of low-wage job. Indeed, from his description, he
seems to have a close relationship with his boss or, in other words, he is the man
whom his boss trusts upon. This is shown whenever there is a meeting his boss
does not want to attend, the character “I” becomes the boss’ representative to run
some presentations for the company. Consequently, then, working in such a job,
the character “I” is materially sufficient.
This is how he can afford to practice a delightful life in a condominium;
a space on the fifteenth floor of a high-rise building, he calls as home. To live in a
condominium implies the character “I’s” preference to live in a private and secure
place, rather than to life in a neighbourhood environment.
In a glance, from this personal description, the character “I’s” life seems
normal, in the way that his life is not distinct from generally urban people practice
a life; individual, stranger to each other, lack of sociability, and spending much of
their time working as an employee of a certain industrial company. In the case of
the character “I”, such urban phenomenon is obviously described in his preference
to live at a condominium since to life in such place, the character “I” consents to
foster a secluded life; to live in limitationof space, of air, of social interaction
and, intentionally, of external disturbance.
ceiling and wall between me and any adjacent stereo or turned-up television. A foot of concrete and air conditioner, you couldn’t open the windows so even with maple flooring and dimmer switches, all seventeen hundred airtight feet would smell like the last meal you cooked or your last trip to bathroom…Still, a foot of concrete is important when your neighbor lets the battery on her hearing aid go and has to watch her game shows at full blast. Or when volcanic blast of a burning gas and debris that used to be your living-room set and personal effects blows out your floor-to-ceiling windows and sails down flaming to leave just your condo, only yours…” (1997: 41).
Such individualistic tendency that is apparently shared by many people in the
character “I’s” world has consequently given birth to the culture of apathy by
which, then, people tends to be a stranger to each other. There is no adequate
space for such a thing such as intimate interpersonal relationship or friendship to
be articulated. What is left is, the character “I” says, tiny friendship.
“…tiny life…tiny soap, tiny shampoo…tiny mouthwash…tiny friendship” (1997: 28-31).
Thus, the character “I’s” reluctant to reveal his name in every moment of
introduction is sufficient to explain his characteristic as an individualistic person.
in. Hiding his name, the character “I” intends to keep certain distance from other
The way the character “I” remains nameless is explainable in relation to
his preference to live condominium and also his occupation. Working such a job,
which spends most of his time, has consequently caused the character “I”
exhausted physically and psychologically. It is reasonable or justifiable, then, for
the character “I” to spend some time he got left to detach from his daily life.
Condominium seems perfect for such intention, in which he is able to feel relax
limits or norms or any external disturbance. Such self-absorption intention is
explainable with his tendency to hide name; afraid of intimacy.
Further, the background of narrator’s quality, informed in his personal
description, has immediately given us an impression of a picture of a common
man. The way he responds the banality of his everyday life is, presumably, not
quite distinct from many other people in his world. This is evidently in the case of
condominium, the place he prefers to live at, “…for young professionals” (1997:
41). In this way, the character “I” is, presumably, as banal as his everyday life and
as anonymous as his anonymity. Characteristically, therefore, he is an ‘anti-hero’.
An anti-hero, Birenbaum notes, is a charactercentral or main
characterthat is characteristically described to posses the quality of an ordinary
person (1997: 146). Thus, to know how ordinary is the character “I”, this thesis
needs to reveal his characteristic of which evaluated from the depiction of him in
The character “I” often conceives himself as misfortunate person. He
verbalizes this in a confession.
“This is when I’d cry because right now, [my] life comes down to nothing and not even nothing, oblivion…When [I] see how everything [I] can ever accomplish will end up as trash. Anything [I] ever proud of will be thrown away” (1997: 17).
Such perception becomes more obvious in the way he often values himself as
nothing in comparison with other people.
To compare to Chloe who is inflicted by the brain cancer, the character “I” is
supposedly feeling better since he is not in the middle of any kind of deadly
diseases. The character “I”, on the contrary, views himself worse in comparison
with Chloe. Further, when he places himself in a comparison with other people,
the character “I” tends to value himself in subordinate position. He never sees
himself as the one who is better. It exemplifies through the way he associates
himself as a cockroach in a comparison with a dinner party guest or as trash and
crap in comparison with Marla Singeranother character that its relation to the
character “I” will be discussed later. Such ironical self-awareness may imply that
at the very moment, the character “I” despises himself for his life is, in any way,
never better than other people’s life, and not even better than those people in
However, the way the character “I” equates himself with those people
who is socially subordinated is deceiving. It is proven by his doctor’s refusal to
consider him in pain.
“My doctor said [that] [I]nsomnia is just the symptom of something larger. Find out what actually wrong. Listen to your body[,]…chew valerian root and get more exercise” (1997: 25-30).
The doctor’s suggestion implies that the character “I” is not at all in pain, not in
the way patients of dangerous diseases experience pain. Such delusion of pain that
the character “I” experiences is revealed through the Marla’s reflection whose
gaze is able to give the character “I” a sense of judgement and remind him of his
“To Marla I’m a fake. Since the second night I saw her I can’t sleep…In this moment, Marla’s lie reflects my lie…Marla is smoking and rolling her eyes, and me, I’m buried under a sobbing carpet” (1997: 25-30).
For the character “I”, life appears in a paradox; a life that is supposed to be
meaningful in its every moment turns out to be stale, narrow and meaningless. He
never has a sense of belonging because his life is his job and his job turns to be
his life. He finds his life like a meaningless motion and job description. He often
mocks and ridicules himself for such a finding just to convey his dissatisfaction
and disappointment with his life
“I set my watch two hours earlier or three hours later, Pacific, Mountain, Central or Eastern time; lose an hour, gain an hour. This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time…What I am is a recall campaign coordinator,…but I’m working toward a career as a dishwasher” (1997: 29-31).
This way, Marla’s reflection together with the doctors’ suggestion cancels
immediately the character “I’s” assumption of a miserable life he is living. Thus,
this thesis argues, the way the character “I” often perceives himself in subordinate
position compared to other people informs clearly his characteristic as a person
who often feels unsatisfied with his life and who lacks sense of self-esteem.
Other attitude that is significant to the character “I” is his tendency to
make cynical comment and ridicules other people’s gesture. This is very obvious
when he describes the people at support group.
“Bob’s big shoulder made me think of horizon. Bob’s thick blond hair was what you get when hair cream calls itself a sculpting mousse…Bob’s shoulders inhale themselves up in a long draw, then drop, drop, drop in jerking sobs. Draw themselves up. Drop. Drop. Drop ” (1997: 17).
Commenting on Bob’s flaw, the character “I” seems to suggest that his condition
is someway better than Bob or, in another saying, the character “I” intends to
project himself better than other people.
“Around us in the Trinity Episcopal basement with the thrift store plaid sofa are maybe twenty men…Some pairs lean forward heads pressed ear-to-ear, the way wrestler stand, locked” (1997: 17).
The atmosphere in support group is obviously sad and sorrow as there are many
people, to use Peter Mathews’ words, again, “who have lost all productive
purpose in life through the intervention of sickness” cry to each other just to share
their worst fear and pain. Such situation would consequently make anyone in
there to feel sad, or at least is affected. The way the character “I” describes the
situation in support group, in this context, implies his tendency to project himself
superior to his environment.
Such sense of superiority the character “I” intends to project by means of
mocking and cynicism may serve to explain his qualities as a person who is
indifferent to other people suferring. He appropriates other people’s suffering in
several support groups he participates with the intention of fulfilling his hunger
for emotional experience, attention, and most of all, sureness that “Everyone has
something wrong” (1997: 109). This is shown in his confession,
“Stranger with this kind of honesty make me go a big rubbery one, if you know you know what I mean…Walking home after a support group, I felt more alive than I’d ever felt. I wasn’t host to cancer or blood parasites; I was the little warm center that the life if the world crowded around” (1997: 21-22).
Seen from the character “I’s” two prominent ways of behaving,
discussed attitudes are derived becomes perceptible. The situation at support
group has surely impressed him in which he experiences freedom from ‘pain’,
anxiety and meaningless life. This is something that he is never to feel in his daily
experience and, indeed, he mentions his experience at support group as ‘vacation’.
Stating that support group is ‘vacation’, the character “I”, thus, has unconsciously
made comparison between his daily life and support group in which he earnestly
concludes “…[t]his (support group) is better than real life…” (1997: 22). Since
then, the character “I” tends to compare and evaluate things from such
perspective. It simply results his ironical way of seeing, mocking and cynicism
just to conceal his disappointment with his life and envy.
Amongst the character “I’s” way of behaving that has been discussed so
far, there is one most significant attitude that foregrounds all his attitudes. It is his
preoccupation with the condition of his psychic health. Overwhelmed in fatigue
and acute sense of emptiness, the character “I”, instead of struggling to deal with
such desolation, tends to seek any possible detachment from such sense, he
experiences as ‘pain’. This is seen obviously in his wandering from relaxant pills,
consumerism and support group. These things serve as a means that enables him
to forget momentarily his ‘pain’ of an empty life in which he says, “For the
moment, nothing matters” (1997: 31). His tendency to escape from such pain
expresses, then, his image as a patient rather than an agent to his life. Such images
are started by his pathetic request for relaxant pills and followed then by his
The way the character “I” behaves revealed from the way he responds to
his situation speak of the way he experiences his life. He seems unconsciously
busy to overcome his inner crises; to find sense of meaning and purpose in his
life. Surely, there is a void within him that has caused him to act in a way lack
sense of pride of self. This is worsen by his tendency to compare himself to other
people. In an extreme scale, as in the case of the character “I”, such lack of
self-esteem would necessarily entail self-denial. This way, his unwillingness to
mention his name is one of the most perceptible symptoms of his self-denial.
Through denying his ‘existence’, the character “I” is able to forget all of problems
a life has weight down on him. Thus, this is the context of the character “I’s”
wandering from one thing to another thing in order to give himself relief from
anxiety of his empty life. This intention is apparently shared by many others. It is
revealed from his description on the tendency to consumerism in which he
parodies the men common fondness to sit in the bathroom with pornography that
has transformed in their preferring to read instead IKEA catalogue and his
description on various support group he attends of which suggests the prevalence
of support group culture among people in his world and the way that a lot of
people are interested to join in fight club. Thus, the character “I’s” wandering
from one thing to another thing just to escape from the ‘pain’ of meaningless life
conveys his earnest aversion to be the man he is presently. It entails his strong
desire to be someone else.
Having finished the discussion, this thesis has revealed the
characteristics of the character “I”. As it has been revealed, it is a psychic problem
that gives the character “I” anxiety and uneasiness to live. Despite his material
success, such inner anxiety has instead caused him to feel less proud over himself
and the life he currently undergoes. In short, he is lack of self-esteem. Such a lack
of sense of self has then leads him to have a habit to compare his life to other
people. From this kind of attitude, the character “I” finds out that his life is worse
than that of other people. He often mocks himself for such a finding just to convey
his dissatisfaction and disappointment with his life. As a way to cope with such a
sense of disappointment and futility, he embraces cynicism. He simply regards
with such a sense of knowingness that other people conceal something wrong in
their lives. Along with cynicism, he runs to consumerism through which he
intends to convince to both himself and others that he is not less significant
person. However, rather than reduce his unhappiness, it instead reinforces his
unhappiness. Experiences such unhappy and meaningless life, he fosters a fantasy
that he can be someone else whose life is interesting. It can be seen that to cope
with his inner problem the character “I” chooses to escape and disregard it. This
escapism is what grounds his all characteristics.
2. The Depiction of Tyler Durden
Tyler has no occupationnot in the sense of any formal daily
occupation, but he works part-time as a movie projectionist and a banquet waiter.
monotonous routines. As a part-time projectionist, for example, Tyler has to
arrange several reels of film of every movie in a certain order at every theatre
where the movie is played. the character “I” describes,
“…Tyler did changeovers if the theatre was old enough. With changeover, you have two projectors in the booth and one projector is running…Most movies are six or seven small reels of film played in a certain order…This way, you…have to run two projector and do changeovers, switch back and forth, reel one, switch, reel two on the other projector, switch, reel three on the first projector…Old theatre, new theatre, to ship movie to next theatre, Tyler has to break the movie back down to the original six or seven rolls” (1997: 26).
Such a job, is not only monotonous but also meaningless in the way that this job
consists various simple tasks such as, arranging reels of film into a certain order,
doing changeovers, serving food to a party or a gala dinner, clearing the dirty
plates, and rinsing the dishes.
Tyler lives at a rented house at the Paper Street. The house is very awful
that no one would be willing to live in except one who lives with limited income
or who has a certain purpose, like those drug dealers who prefer to stay in a
“[In] the house that Tyler rents,…[t]he rain trickles down through the house, and everything wooden swells and shrinks, and the nails…inch out and rust…There are no neihgbors. There are nothing else on Paper Street except the warehouse and the pulp mill. The fart smell of steam from the paper mill and hamster cage smell of woodchips in orange pyramids around the mill…a bah-zillion trucks drive down Paper Street everyday, but at night, Tyler…alone for a half-mill in every direction ” (1997: 57-58).
The terrible condition of his house, thus, may serve to explain Tyler’s economic
From the personal description of Tyler previously, the way he is
characterized may serve to present a particularity impression on his character. The
way he possesses certain quality of strength may seem exaggerating. But, such
exaggeration is appropriate or necessary if such particularity impression is ever
intended. Possessing such quality of strength, thus, Tyler’s image stands to
represent the few people for the fact that such strength is solely inherent in some
people. Together with the strange condition of the place he lives and the kind of
occupation that is not common, the way he is described to possess extra-ordinary
strength may served to articulate and emphasis the particularity image of Tyler. In
a way, such particularity image may signify a kind of anti-herd characteristic. In
regard to the way the character “I” is characterized as an anti-hero or, simply,
common man, as it has been discussed previous part, therefore, Tyler Durden
whom the character “I” has his interest upon shall reasonably be supposed to bear
the quality of a special person who is admired by other people or, to say simply, a
heroas the character “I” may have seen him so.
The character “I” often seems to describe Tyler Durden in amazement.
Such amazement may be clearly seen in the chapter three of the novel in which
while he is describing himself, he is, at the same moment, describing Tyler
Durden. This way, the character “I” seemingly intends to compare his life with
Tyler Durden life. In such intention, he recognizes that his life is uninteresting
while Tyler’s life seems amusing.
Tac…[I] wake up at Willow Run…Cigarette burns, they’re called in the business. The first white dot, this is the two-minute warning,…the second projector started so it will be running up to speed. The second white dot is the five-second warning. Excitement…[I]wake up at Krissy Field…[I] wake up at Meigs Field…[I] wake up at Logan, again. This is terrible way to travel. I go to mettings my boss doesn’t want to attend. I take notes. I’ll get back to you…What I am is a recall campaign coordinator…but I’m working toward a career as a dishwasher” (1997: 25-31).
In the description quoted above, the way the character “I” describes his life is
different from the way he describes Tyler’s life. The way he describes his life
seems flat, sad and sometimes ironic while the way he describes Tyler’s seems so
detail, ardent and full of excitement. In fact, the way Tyler has inspired the
character “I” is revealed at the end of chapter three in which he expresses his
curiosity on Tyler.
There are some aspects of Tyler’s personality that have caused our
narrator to conceive Tyler as an impressive person. The character “I” sees Tyler
as a man who has certain quality of cunningness and possesses vast knowledge.
The character “I” shows Tyler’s cleverness in an occasion in which he describes
the way Tyler is to deal with boredom in his work as a movie projectionist by the
use of frames of pornographic movies. Tyler inserts some of these frames of
pornographic movies into a feature or family movie. Using these frames of
pornographic movies also, Tyler bargains the threat of rationalization the
projectionist union puts on him. One of the most interesting cunningness the
character “I” sees in Tyler Durden is the way Tyler satirizes an urban trend, fat
product to the place where these people, who had just have their fat sucked out,
buy their soap.
“…[F]or the first time since I’ve known him, Tyler had some real play money. Tyler was making real bucks. Nordstrom’s called and left order for two hundred bars of Tyler’s brown sugar facial soap before Christmas. At twenty bucks a bar, suggested retail price, we had maney to go out on Saturday night…to fix the leak in the gas line…without money to worry about, maybe I could quit my job. Tyler calls himself the Paper Street Soap Company. People are saying it’s the best soap ever” (1997: 83).
These people, who have their fat sucked outbecause extra fat means
imperfectionuse Tyler’s facial soap that was produced from their own sucked
out fat, which costs them twenty dollars for each and then, they claimed that it is
the best soap ever that they had ever use and they like it. In this, Tyler says, “how
you always kill the one you love, well, look, it works both ways” (1997 : 13).
Closely related to the way the character “I” sees Tyler as a cunning
person is the impression of Tyler for him as a person who possesses amazingly
vast knowledge. Tyler’s ability to produce soap is a part of his knowledge. In the
case of soap, Tyler knows its detail ingredients, its history, its culture. He knows
the knowledge about gun, about bomb, about explosive materials. He knows the
knowledge about some dangerous tiny animals. He knows something about
Buddhist monastery. In short, Tyler knows many things or, in the character “I’s”
words, “…Tyler is full of information”, which he repeats many times.
However, the way the other character see Tyler is not quite different
with the character “I”. Bob, a patient of testicular cancer support group, for
example, although he has never met with Tyler, seems enthusiastically to know