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Fight Club and Generation X

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Fight Club and Generation X

In the novel Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk we are introduced to our narrator, a nameless male who stands atop the Parker-Morris building with a gun pressed to his mouth waiting for the moment when the bombs go off and the building crumbles. Holding the gun to his mouth is Tyler Durden who represents everything the narrator is not. The narrator is a man presumably in his 30’s, although it is never stated. He works as a recall campaign coordinator and lives in a condo furnished with the latest furniture. Tyler Durden is none of these things, Tyler Durden works various jobs and sells soap made of human fat. Tyler Durden lives in a dilapidated house with makeshift furnishings and questionable utilities. Tyler Durden is satisfied with his life, unlike our narrator who suffers from chronic insomnia and who often speaks bitterly about the corporate life.

“You do the little job you’re trained to do. Pull a lever. Push a button. You don’t understand any of it, and then you just die.”(Palahniuk 12)

It is lines like these that helped this novel soar in popularity among the ‘Generation X’ crowd. It is because people feel trapped in their jobs and material lives. We go to work, we do what we’re told, we buy the things they tell us to buy, but seldom do these things bring meaning to our lives. Because the novel speaks to such a large audience of young people, it has become an important statement regarding modern culture.

Support groups are the only way the narrator is able to get any sleep. By visiting various support groups for people with terminal illnesses, and assuming false identities, he is able to find a sense of belonging that is otherwise missing in his life.

“This is why I loved the support groups so much, if people thought you were dying, they gave you their full attention.”(Palahniuk 107) Like the narrator, ‘Generation X’ too feels disconnected from a society in which people are generally too preoccupied with themselves to listen.

It is not atop the Parker-Morris building that the narrator first meets Tyler Durden. Instead it is on a nude beach that the narrator wakes up to Tyler Durden constructing a giant hand out of driftwood in the sand.

“What Tyler had created was the shadow of a giant hand. Only now the fingers were Nosferatu-long and the thumb was too short, but he said how at exactly four-thirty the hand was perfect. The giant shadow hand was perfect for one minute, and for one perfect minute Tyler had sat in the palm of a perfection he’d created himself.”(Palahniuk 33)

At that moment, Tyler Durden represents for the narrator and the readers something that they do not have: control. Tyler had created his own perfect world, the hand, which was perfect for one minute. Control over his life and world is something that the narrator’s life lacks, like ‘Generation X’ he has no control at his job and his possessions own him.

Upon returning from a business trip, the narrator discovers that his condo has been blown to pieces. Everything that he has worked so hard to acquire is now gone.

“You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.”(Palahniuk 44) The narrator is told that it was most likely a gas leak that caused the explosion and destruction of his personal belongings. As he left the remains of his condo behind, the doorman offers these words of advice:

“A lot of young people try to impress the world and buy too many things…A lot of young people don’t know what they really want…. Young people, they think they want the whole world….If you don’t know what you want, you end up with a lot you don’t”(Palahniuk45-46)

These words reflect society’s obsession with material belongings. It is implied that people spend so much time trying to obtain things that they never really discover what they want in life. Left with no home, the

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