Fight Club (Film)

The Problem of Identity in Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club

Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club is an unprecedented novel which is particularly concerned with the problem of forging secure identities in the face of modern challenges: consumerism, capitalism, emasculating white-collar work, an absence of fathers, and an absence of historical distinctiveness. The text’s protagonist is a figure so lost in the ennui of modern life that he is driven to creating an unruly alter-ego who has the courage to act out his unconscious desires, and who promises deliverance from his state of anonymity. The disastrous results that come about speak volumes about the post-modern world in which the story is set; a world which borrows heavily from our own. This essay will explore the various causes of the ‘identity problem’ as offered by Palahniuk, as well as the various solutions his characters desperately implement. It will be argued that identity in modern times, as conceived by Fight Club, is a problem that is as pressing as it is unsolvable.

One of Fight Club’s main concerns in relation to the problem of identity is the notion of consumerism, and by extension - capitalism, commodification and the endless quest for self-improvement. Early in the story, the narrator recognises the futility of acquisition as a...

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