Slide: The Analysis of Fight Club
"You know that old saying,
how you always hurt
Live as a Movie
Tyler and the Narrator have
what can easily be called an abusive relationship, much like the one
all participants have with Fight Club. Because Tyler is, to the Narrator,
in every way perfect, he is obviously the dominant half. He controls
the Narrator's actions, even "speaking for him" much like an abusive
husband would for his wife. He actively threatens the Narrator: "If
you say anything about me or what goes on in this house to her or anybody,
we're done." However, the Narrator is in turn violently possessive of
Tyler; he is jealous of Marla, and when Tyler shows affection and approval
towards Angel Face, the Narrator takes his revenge by viciously beating
the blond boy, to the point of horrifying everyone.
So how does their relationship
fit into the distinctly anti-feminine, homophobic atmosphere of Fight
Club? For starters, the anti-feminine nature of the club lends itself
toward excluding women from all parts of their lives. (Marla is the
exception to this, but Tyler is more or less bound to sleep with her
due to the Narrator's unwanted desire for her. Also, she is cut from
the same cloth as the Narrator, ice to Tyler's fire. Tyler needs this
"other half" to complete himself, but it is fairly obvious that Marla
isn't the answer.) When the Narrator comments that he isn't interested
in marriage, Tyler comments, "I'm wondering if another woman is really
the answer we need." This causes the unbalance that brings about Tyler's
destruction; he becomes too "masculine," pushing the Narrator
away, which in turn removes Tyler's chance of completing himself.
writes, "Sexism (dislike for that which is weak or feminine) and
virility (as represented by conquest over women) are both sides of the
Supermasculine and sometimes, in especially exaggerated circumstances
of masculinity, conflict. If women are despised as the weak and inferior,
unable to penetrate certain masculine mysteries (i.e. the hunt, war,
etc) it makes men admire and love each other more than the opposite
sex as basic human narcissism seeks out relatively equal or superior
sexual partners. However, homosexuality is in itself often viewed as
a form of effeminancy and is therefore outwardly despised in the Supermasculine
cultures (such as Ancient Rome and Sparta). The stress between homophobia
and homeroticism creates a form of very tense homophobic homoeroticism
which lends itself quite easily to violence and paranoia."
The Male Castration Theme
The theme of male castration seen throughout the movie, Fight Club is another example of the symbolism in the film that reflects The Narrator's struggle with balancing his feminine and masculine energies as well as accepting them both as positive inherent features within himself and others.
the opening scenes, we are introduced to Bob, a man with testicular
cancer who has had his been castrated. The Narrator finds himself intimately
involved in a support group of similar men called "Remaining Men
Together." The Narrator makes sarcastic remarks about Bob calling
him "The Big Moosey," yet he find a cure for his insomnia
in Bob's two most obvious and feminine features - his massive breasts
and his ability to cry (oh, wait, that's three features). One of the
first things The Narrator tells us is that "Bob had bitch tits."
A few minutes later, he described the same body parts as "enormous,
the way we think of God's as big."
There are also two references to castration during conversations between The Narrator and Marla. One occurs when she approaches him in the kitchen describing a "sex crime victim." She seductively reaches for his testicles through his underwear and he recoils. Earlier in the film when he tells her he should be allowed to continue as a member of the testicular cancer support group. Her reply is, "Technically, I have more of a right to be there than you. You still have your balls." His retort is, "You're kidding." Hers is, "I don't know? Am I?" as if she were wondering (perhaps in jest) if, in fact, he were castrated.
Near the end of the film, a police officer tells us the punishment for interfering with Project Mayhem is castration. The other police officer in the same scene tells The Narrator that it is a great gesture for him to submit to castration as a example for Project Mayhem members.