In 1996, Chuck Palahniuk published his first novel, Fight Club. On the surface it can is seen as a backlash to the feminization of men, and a celebration of violence for violence sake. But what is it really about? Fight Club is a protest against not the feminization of the western male, but against men themselves. (Audio track three on the special edition DVD featuring author Chuck Palahniuk and screenwriter Jim Uhls is fantastic and can help the reader understand the motivations of the characters much better if they haven't read the book.)
What is the Motivation of the Hyper-masculinity of Fight Club?
How much do you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight--Tyler Durden, Fight Club
The question posed by Tyler to the unnamed narrator, (from here on, referred to as `Jack') may seem brutish on the surface, but it is has very deep meaning. It is a battle call against suburban sensibilities. Jack is domesticated, an animal caged by an office, and he doesn't know it. He is his own keeper, shuffling from one cage to another five days week. Much like many affluent young men of my generation, to whom this work is targeted, have not led fulfilling lives. Society has not given them ample rites of passage. There is something empty. Fathers leave to start new families, advertising tells us what we should look like, how to be cool, et cetera. Tyler addresses this, calling men "slaves with white collars...working jobs we hate to buy shit we don't need...we're ...
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...currently being fought by western civilization, a war with no end in sight. A reading of the novel pre-September 11th, and a reading post-September 11th are two separate things. Before the tragic events, it was an indictment against the nurturing of man and long held ideas of manliness. Post event, it's a view back of how things were and possibly could have been for the modern urban male. As it stands, many of those men who were in dead end jobs or are still in those jobs during the time of the books events have shifted their concerns to something less insular. How long that attitude will last remains to be seen.
Palanhuik, Chuck. Fight Club. New York City: W.W. Norton & Company,
Uhls, Jim, et al. Fight Club. Hollywood, California: Twentieth Century Fox, 1999.
Tzu, Sun, et al. The Art of War. New York City: Delacorte Press, 1983.
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