Written by Viviana Lopez
Throughout the novel we see various ways author Chuck Palahniuk explicitly represents
the main character, the Narrator, struggle with internal conflicts. Palahniuk starts off by giving us a representation of how the Narrator's life is arranged to be a recurring routine. His life is in no way dangerous nor exciting.
He lives a ordinary life that consists of attending a office job seven hours a day five days out of the week. He seems to have a well rebounded lifestyle; however soon the Narrator reveals that he suffers from insomnia that provokes his sleep deprivation. This causes him to feel numb in many aspects of his life and decides to find ways in which he is able to release this restriction that is restricting him from being able to sleep. After a visit to the hospital, his doctor recommended that if he wanted to see people that were in pain he should stop by a testicular cancer support group. He takes this into consideration and heads over there out of curiosity and no intention of getting anything out of it; however little did he know this was going to be the beginning of another world he would create for himself out of internal conflicts he had. Fortunately for him he discovered an outlet and that night he was able to sleep like a baby. Being a man in society puts many pressures on men that feel the need to live up to these expectations. Most men feel the need to display their masculinity around their peers but most of all the men
that are around them on a daily basis. Men have been taught and have internalized the norms of what they are supposed to live up to which can be very self destructive. So when the Narrator found a place he was able to feel vulnerable he valued it and it became a type of a coping mechanism. He started going to various support groups that gave him the opportunity to let go. However, one day he met Marla Singer that changes everything completely. He felt as though he wasn’t able to release everything that was built up. He had this hatred for Marla when he first met her because she was taking away the one thing that satisfied him in life. All his internal conflicts not being able to come out because of this one girl. He returned to working constantly and is when he met Tyler Durden or so he thought. He thought Tyler was an extraordinary person. When the Narrator got back to his apartment it turned out to be burned down and he had nowhere to go so he called Tyler. They soon met up at a bar and decided to head over to the back parking lot. Tyler approached him with a statement that was astonishing. Tyler wanted him to hit him which was odd but he did it anyway. The Narrator asked Tyler to hit him and when he did he felt a rush of feeling alive. This greatly impacted them both which lead them to create fight club. This club gave men the freedom of feeling pain and feeling fulfillment. Palahniuk writes “You aren’t alive anywhere like you are alive at fight club” that demonstrates that these men were craving a sense of purpose out of their lives they had created out of the norms of society (Palahniuk 51). Wanting to be released and free outside of their regular lives that they have been doing so since they were able to comprehend these expectation that are set for men. Fight club
spread all around the United States. Tyler then created Project Mayhem that allowed members of this club to create chaos in the city and feel like they had a purpose. Sooner or later this whole thing started becoming bigger than it should've so the Narrator proceeded to find a way to stop Project Mayhem but failed and realized that he had created Tyler as him other identity to fulfill the internal conflicts that burdened the Narrator.
Reception and Review
Men often feel the need to prove themselves to others and even themselves in some aspects by competing with each other. They underestimate their masculinity because of all the expectations that they are expected to live up to. This internal conflict they have of not being masculine enough deteriorates their self confidence and self worth. In Jeffrey Masters’s review Fight Club: What Makes A Man , he discussed the ways that fight club contributes to men's life and purpose for feeling masculine and how they expressed their masculinity through fight club. Most men are doubtful of how masculine they are and being able to express their masculinity gives the characters in fight club fulfillment like Masters asserts “The fight club allows the characters to express their masculinity in the most primitive way possible: it forces you to abandon all intellectual operations to simply react and behave on a visceral level” (Masters 6). Battling with yourself to be able to find enough self worth and fulfillment can be exhausting especially for men who are expected to live up to certain expectations. Finding an outlet that helps you discover self worth and allows you to let go of these internal conflicts can be life changing; however at times the way you decide to let go may not always be the best way but if it allows you to be able to let go then it’s beneficial no matter how severe it might be. Although men are accustomed to feeling safe, many have the desire to explore the dangers and of the world and venture out to seek freedom. They need to release the pressures they have upon themselves and live without something holding them back or just being safe. Being tied down to certain expectations may cause men to feel stuck within themselves. If men were to want to feel safe then it can cause them to feel like they don’t have a purpose. Feeling safe only restricts oneself from gaining a sense of true meaning. It can prevent you from finding who you are and what you are capable of achieving. For instance when Masters utters “Palahniuk’s characters normalize traditional views surrounding masculinity, and it’s appealing, and thrilling, certainly, but masculinity has become indefinable... For Palahniuk, he takes all that energy and confusion and provides just enough rules to let you harm yourself and another, and still feel safe” it emphasizes the complexity and beauty that Fight Club portrays at the same time (Masters 22). The dangers
that come with exploring and attaining something that gives you purpose in life might be the
good moments in your lifetime; however it may cause some to pass the certain extent that then endangers your life. Internal conflict can be very charming especially in men because of all the norms that they have internalized.