Slide: The Analysis of Fight Club

"You know that old saying, how you always hurt
the one you love? Well, it works both ways."
-the Narrator


Live as a Movie
Feminist Approaches
General Analyses

Referencing Slide



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.

However, the Narrator and Tyler also exhibit affection, particularly near the beginning of the movie. The Narrator describes their life together as being like "Ozzie and Harriet." When Lou is beating Tyler into mush, the Narrator tries to go to him, although Tyler stops him. Tyler holds the Narrator after the car crash, and the Narrator later reaches for him as Tyler leaves him. Sexual allusions are frequent; Tyler describes the Narrator's hesitance to ask for a place to stay as "foreplay," and after they fight, the Narrator suggestively notes, "We should do this again sometime."

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.

Finally, the fact that Tyler and the Narrator are the same person comes into play. Once this final secret is revealed, the viewer realizes that of course the Narrator would be attracted to Tyler-- it is the ultimate form of narcissism and self-love.

Erika 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
by Theresa Rose

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.

In 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."

Later in the film, it is interesting to note that of all the members of Project Mayhem, it is Bob who Tyler orders to put the rubber band around the police commissioner's testicles. Curiously, Bob's comment upon doing so is, "His balls are ice cold."

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.