The modern man has created a paramilitary world in which a new form of culture has emerged. In James William Gibson’s essay Warrior Dreams, he discusses the idea of an energized culture whose main objective is to fit the “warrior” persona. The appearance of this warrior persona “revealed that at some deep, unconscious level….the images and tales from the mythic world of warriors and wars still shape men’s fantasies about who they are as men” (633). Men create an image in which they are comfortable with their identity, have power, and are confident about their future ambitions. This warrior persona can be closely related to the narrator in Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club. The main character, who is just referred to as the narrator, has a perfect life. He holds a middle class job, has expensive furniture, and a nice apartment, but there is something missing in his life. He lacks a sense of self-worth and self-meaning which in turn leads him to create an alternate persona named Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden is everything that the narrator aspires to be. He is strong, powerful, and conspicuous just like the “warrior” persona. Tyler and the narrator start an organization called fight club with the intention of learning more about themselves, being powerful, and taking out their aggression on the world. Fight club starts to gain popularity due to this warrior persona that the narrator has created.
The reason fight club has gained so much popularity is due to the reasons behind fight club itself. Men want to learn more about themselves, and about self-destruction. Tyler says, “It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything” (Palahniuk 70). This is one of the characteristics of fight club that is most appealing to its members. Most of the men that join fight club lead perfect lives with average jobs, but want more meaning out of their lives. In order to be free of this perfection, you need to break everything in your life, and hit rock bottom. Once you have hit rock bottom only then can your life be complete. Self-destruction and the idea of “not wanting to die without any scars” gives these men an idea of how to attain contentment with their lives. Fight club gives these men a chance to see how powerful their emotions and physical strength can be. When fighting another individual, these men want to see how capable they are of damaging another person. In return, fight club members learn more about themselves in the process and discover their own sense of power. Fight club also gives its members a chance to escape reality and enter a world where they feel more alive. This alternate reality gives these men something to live for, and a chance to feel saved from their ordinary lives.
Another reason that men go to fight club is to feel a sense of empowerment. Since these men hold ordinary jobs and aren’t appreciated by their own society, fight club is an outlet to express their authority. The narrator says, “I felt finally I could get my hands on everything in the world that didn’t work, my cleaning that came back with the collar buttons broken, the bank that says I’m hundreds of dollars withdrawn”(53). Fight club is a way to control the outcome of your life. Fighting and violence provides confidence, just like the “warrior” persona. This violence is invigorating and exciting to modern men along with the fight club members in Chuck Palahniuk’s book. Most guys are at fight club because of something they’re too scared to fight. In both Tyler and the Narrator’s case, it is their fathers. Both of these characters were raised by their mothers, along with most of the men in fight club. Gibson says, “Feminism was widely experienced by men as a profound threat to their identity” (632). Since there was no father figure, these fight club members became lost and their identities taken into question. Fight club’s empowerment gives these men a sense of identity and masculinity.