Fight Club Summary

Chuck Palahniuk

Fight Club

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Fight Club Summary

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Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk is a novel that questions the narrator’s—and reader’s—view of reality, and the idea of madness. Atop a 190-story building, the narrator stands with Tyler Durden, who is holding a gun inside the narrator’s mouth. Total annihilation awaits him. How the narrator reached this point is a story that begins two years prior.

The narrator lives what most would consider a normal life. He has a job. He has a condo. He lives each day in the typical, consumer-driven lifestyle of American culture. Unfortunately, he suffers from insomnia, though he can’t pinpoint the reason. Rather than search for the cause of his insomnia, he determines that the solution is to attend support groups. He feels others’ pain vicariously, crying with them as though he suffers from the same afflictions. One night, at one of the support groups he pretends to need, he meets Marla Singer. He views Marla as a wrench in the machine, and dislikes her for messing up his support group schedule.

On a trip for work, the narrator encounters Tyler Durden at the beach. Tyler gives the narrator his phone number, and when the latter returns home, it is to discover that his condo has exploded. All of his material possessions are gone. In search of support, he calls Tyler, who meets him in the parking lot. They get into a fistfight, and the fight club is born.

The narrator goes to live with Tyler, and over time, the fight club membership grows. The male population is eager to experience the feelings elicited by fight clubs, and they expand not only in participants, but also in location. Meanwhile, Tyler meets and starts sleeping with a woman named Marla. The narrator begins to feel jealous, and starts dreaming about them having sex. It’s all he can think about, day and night.

At the house, in between fight club sessions and sleeping with Marla, Tyler begins rendering fat and making soap, which he begins to sell with great success. Because they know too much and have nothing at risk, both the narrator and Tyler cook up a scheme to blackmail their bosses. More and more, the narrator starts to see similarities between Tyler and himself. Both of them look battered due to fight club sessions. The narrator even starts to speak like Tyler. At this point, Tyler creates Project Mayhem, which is a group of committees that meet to complete assignments of civil disobedience assigned by Tyler each week. Tyler drags the narrator into the project.

On a business trip, the narrator comes the realization that men everywhere with bruises and cuts on their faces are treating him not only with respect, but with reverence. This leads him to discover that they think he is Tyler Durden—and it’s then that he realizes they’re correct—he is Tyler. He has split personalities, and when he falls asleep, the more destructive side, Tyler, takes control. Tyler is starting to take over so that the narrator begins to feel that he is losing control as Tyler becomes more dominant.

A member of Project Mayhem, Bob, is killed. The narrator tries to halt the activities and meetings of both Project Mayhem and the fight club. However, both have picked up enough steam that he can’t stop them without stopping Tyler, and he understands that the only way to stop Tyler for good is to get rid of him. When he goes to work, he realizes that his office building has been blown up, and the last thing he remembers is smelling gasoline on his own hands. The police are eager to question people, so he tries to flee on the bus, but the bus is full of Project Mayhem members, who claim Tyler ordered them to castrate him as punishment for trying to shut down Project Mayhem and the fight club. The narrator worries for Marla’s safety.

He meets her and she accuses him of killing someone. He determines that Tyler will stop at nothing, and will remove anyone, that interferes with Project Mayhem’s success. Determined to die, the narrator calls a fight club meeting and fights every man in the club. He manages to survive, and when he comes to, Tyler is with him atop the building from the beginning of the story, waiting for it to explode.

The building doesn’t explode due to a mistake Tyler made mixing the chemicals, so the narrator decides that he has to shoot himself. However, he manages to live, but winds up in a mental institution. Members of the fight club run the institution. The book ends with their assurance to the narrator that his plans are in place, and they look forward to his recovery and return.