Identity In Fight Club

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In Chuck Palahniuk’s novel “Fight Club”, the protagonist Jack suffers from a dissociated identity disorder developed by the frustration and alienation of a materialistic American society. The novel as well as David Fincher’s 1999 film adaptation both offer a broad spectrum of various themes associated with the 20th century, the most notable being the ideas of consumerism and the feminization of the culture as a whole. Along with his alter-ego Tyler Durden, Jack creates ‘Fight Club’, where the oppressed men of Generation X attempt to regain their male identities by withdrawing from society and falling to their most violent instincts in order to feel alive. Hence, Fight Club “seduces us with the pleasure of expressing rage against the constraints…show more content…
Palahniuk’s setting of the story in the late 1990’s is particularly vital in understanding the shared feelings of disillusionment and impotency of the working class white men. The end of the Second World War saw the slow but unwavering development of an over-feminized society, fueled by increasing generational expectations for women to become more assertive, independent and financially stable in the household. Additionally, the feminine image was starting to dominate society, coupled with a rapidly growing consumerist culture. Forced to struggle with ideas of masculinity threatened at the time by both communism and feminism, these ‘gray-collar workers’ of America faced a life of uncertainty, tainted by an identity crisis. Consequently, the only way they felt was suitable to vent this subdued anger was to return to their upmost primitive and instinctive form of violence. Fight Club thus served as an opportunity for men to fight back their losing touch with masculinity, and became the key for the protagonist, Jack, to achieving his identity. For his charismatic alter-ego Tyler Durden, physical violence becomes the direct answer as well as the necessary foundation for masculinity, and he therefore reinforces the belief of enabling men to reclaim their identities through the literal damage to their present selves, and become “carved out of wood” (51). The narrator, seeing in Tyler all the qualities he admires yet lacks himself, subjects himself to the works and ideologies of Tyler. Jack’s idolization of Tyler is established the very moment they meet in the novel on a beach, where Tyler, exhibiting all the trademarks of virility, is countlessly associated with words of “perfection”. According to Jack, it is Tyler who portrays the redemption of masculinity, “repackaged as the promise of violence” (GIROUX); it is Tyler, whom he
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