Fight Club - Novel to Movie

Michael Hull

______________"Fight Club"_______________


The plot of Fight Club is generally the same through both the novel and movie. The Narrator is living a cookie cutter existence sitting behind a desk day by day that goes insane likely with both schizophrenia and dissociative personality disorder (Among other things) and creates an alter ego that looks, acts, lives, and thinks the way he wants to. The Narrator is also suffering from insomnia and cannot find a way to cope, so he goes to a series of support groups for terminal diseases that he does not have to learn what real pain is, and through them meets Marla Singer who initially ruins the helpful effects of the support groups for him but who he eventually comes to have an amatory relationship with in one of his personality states but who he hates in the other. Along with his alter ego, Tyler Durden, the Narrator creates a club to replace the support groups as a form of emotional release and calls it Fight Club, which as the name would suggest is a club of men who gather in the basement of a bar to fight. Eventually, Tyler's personality state begins to take over more and more and a movement called Project Mayhem is created which is essentially an anti-upper class terrorist cell based out of the Narrator's house that uses homemade explosives to fight business society. Eventually, Project Mayhem is led by Tyler to destroy a series of skyscrapers downtown that host credit card companies' servers to reset the debt counter to 0 for everyone with a card with those companies. The Narrator realizes what his alter ego has done and tries to stop them from blowing the buildings, but he has so completely indoctrinated them that a group of police officers attack him in their own station for turning against the movement and attempt to cut off his testicles. In the end, the bombings go off and the Narrator shoots himself in the mouth to destroy his alter ego, but he survives the shot and is left watching the buildings collapse around him downtown as he ponders where to turn next in life alone or with Marla.

____________Major Characters____________

____________Minor Characters____________


The setting of Fight Club was consistent through both the novel and movie. Tyler's personality state visited all of the same cities, and the buildings he blew up had all the same street addresses. Also the Narrator and Tyler lived at the same house on Paper Street in the same unnamed city. Marla lived in the same hotel room 8G at the Regents Hotel, and Tyler blew up the same apartment that the Narrator had lived in previously. The time period also appeared to be the same between the two Fight Club mediums, and the weather stayed mostly consistent although some scenes in the stories appeared in very slightly different order so weather timing changed in a way that was next to impossible to keep up with. Despite this, weather in relation to the scene it appeared in was consistent.


Fight Club has a number of different conflicts that remain consistent across mediums, including the conflict between lower and upper social classes, the internal conflict between the Narrator's usual personality and his Tyler Durden personality, the conflict dynamic between Marla Singer and the Narrator's two personalities, the conflict between the Narrator's usual personality and Project Mayhem which was entirely Tyler's creation, and the conflict between the Narrator's Tyler personality and 'normal' society. Because of the unique dynamic created by the Narrator's mental disorders it is next to impossible to draw one single main conflict from all of the smaller ones, there are only some greater than others.

The conflict between lower and upper social classes is the driving force behind Tyler's regrettable behavior and the cause for the creation of Project Mayhem. Tyler can almost always be found preaching some message of hatred for the upper class, as he has an intense distaste not only for the way they throw their money around but for the way they are often very conformist, weak-minded, and lack confidence. Tyler fights this conflict not just by creating Project Mayhem, but also by polluting food with bodily fluids at his night job as a waiter at a very high class restaurant and by splicing single frames of pornography or other explicit material into family films for 1/60 of a second. Another example of Tyler's distaste for the upper class is found only in the novel during a scene at a wealthy dinner party he waited on where he placed a note stating that someone had urinated in one or more of the hostess' hundreds of extraordinarily expensive perfume bottles, effectively ruining all of them to her although he had actually urinated in none of them. This conflict goes hand in hand with Tyler's conflict with 'normal' society as he is almost constantly preying on the 'weak' that he considers conformists with no true sense of self, freedom, or 'enlightenment'.

The internal conflict between the Narrator's usual personality and Tyler personality is also one of the main conflicts of Fight Club, manifesting itself often and especially through Project Mayhem. Tyler is the sole creator of Project Mayhem while the Narrator's usual persona is completely against the movement. The Narrator's conflict with himself comes to a head when he tries to stop the final bombing of the credit card headquarters downtown. While acting as Tyler he had not only set up a network of agents completely indoctrinated to follow his commands, but warned them that he may come back later and try to convince them to stop, but they were under no uncertain terms not to listen and to cut off the testicles of anyone that flinched from the cause. When a group of police officers attacked the Narrator in their own station and tried to remove his testicles, he realized that a serious problem had been created and ended up shooting himself in the mouth with a pistol to eliminate his alter ego, resolving the conflict.

The conflict between Marla and the Narrator's two personalities carried a unique dynamic of its own. While in Tyler's personality state, the Narrator had an amatory relationship with Marla even including intercourse, but when in his own usual state he reviled her. Marla will sometimes go to Paper Street to be welcomed with open arms and sometimes by a man who wants absolutely nothing to do with her. Her actions and words do not reveal that the Narrator is the same person as Tyler but her confusion speaks volumes about the triangle created by the Narrator's disorders.


Some themes present in Fight Club in both the novel and movie were society and class conflict, rules and order or lack thereof, self identity, and indoctrination, but the overlying theme was certainly distaste for society.

Society and class conflict occurred quite frequently in both the novel and movie, often with Tyler spearheading the effort. Other than the fact that Project Mayhem itself was designed in opposition to society and the upper class, Tyler is often heard disrespecting society or preaching about the weakness of allowing oneself to fall into the 'normal' rhythm of possessiveness and lack of confidence. Tyler even takes actions into his own hands outside of Project Mayhem at his work by splicing explicit scenes into family movies for 1/60 of a second frames and polluting wealthy diners' food with bodily fluids or otherwise at restaurants.

The theme of rules and order or lack thereof is prevalent in Fight Club in both the novel and movie as well, as not only is Project Mayhem designed specifically to create disorder but the very lifestyle that Tyler Durden lives is in protest of order. As far as rules go, Fight Club itself creates more questions about rules than answers. Established with only eight rules, the first two of which are not to talk about Fight Club, it seems that for the club to even exist rules must be broken. Tyler and the Narrator's whole lives seem to be aligned in resistance to both order and rules.

Self identity is an important theme in Fight Club as Tyler himself is created as an alter ego for the Narrator to help him discover who he is as a person deep down and to change his life from that of a cookie cutter paper pusher into one of significance and freedom. The Narrator's struggle to change his own identity into his ideal version of himself spawns a whole main character in the story, one who, might I add, is constantly preaching and yelling about finding your true identity in resistance to conformity.

Indoctrination is yet another important theme in both the novel and movie as not only does the Narrator's alter ego, Tyler, indoctrinate the Narrator into the Fight Club lifestyle of resistance to conformity and rules so greatly that he stages a fight with his boss in his boss' own office to remain on payroll without having to do any work, but the Narrator indoctrinates so many people into Project Mayhem through his Tyler personality so firmly that they won't even listen to the Narrator himself when he tells them to stop acting as terrorists and a group of police officers sworn to protect the public try to cut off his testicles in an interrogation room at their own station.

Finally, the overall theme shared by both the novel and movie is distaste for society, which is reflected through both of the Narrator's personalities, as well as through Fight Club and Project Mayhem's existence and purpose. The Narrator, and Tyler, live as squatters in a dilapidated house in the warehouse district, the Narrator visits support groups for diseases he does not have, he litters, he stages fights with his own boss to blackmail him, he sports bruises and cuts to work without shame and barely even tries to dress properly, and he blew up his own apartment to help him find rock bottom and try to change his life.

Critical Acclaim

Fight Club's critical acclaim remained mostly consistent between both consumers and critics through the two mediums of novel and movie, and both were received very well by both critics and consumers across multiple review platforms. Published in 1997, the Fight Club Novel received 4.5/5 stars on Amazon and 4.2/5 stars through Goodreads according to consumers, while critics and consumers came together to award the novel a 4.6/5 through Barnes and Noble. The novel received both the 1997 Oregon Book Award for Best Novel and the 1997 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, while critics used terms like, "Brilliantly creepy," "Potent," "Diabolically sharp," "Utterly original," and, "Unsettling and nerve-chafing."

The Fight Club movie was equally well received when it was released in 1999, earning 7.3/10 stars on Rotten Tomatoes according to critics with 79% of those same critics saying they 'liked' the film. Consumers were equally, if not more, welcoming of the movie on that platform with 96% of viewers enjoying the film and a rating of 4.2/5 stars being awarded -- the same as Goodreads' rating of the novel. Reviews on IMBd were equally positive as expected with critics and fans alike combining to award the movie 8.9/10 stars between over 1.3 million reviews. IMBd and's critics were the harshest of any on the film, awarding it a 'metascore' of 66/100. The Fight Club movie was nominated for 32 awards, including and Oscar for Best Effects that it did not win, and brought home 8 wins across 6 different awards ceremonies.