Fight Club (Film)

Fight Club (Film) Summary and Analysis of Scene 41 ("We now had corporate sponsorship") to 50 ("His name is Robert Paulson")


Jack knocks on his boss’s door and says that he thinks they need to talk. He sits down in front of his boss’s desk. His boss, clearly having lost patience with Jack, runs through a list of issues related to Jack’s work: his appearance and his absenteeism. He reminds Jack that he’s up for review. “I am Jack’s total lack of surprise,” answers Jack. Jack asks him to imagine if he was the Department of Transportation and someone told him that their automobile company knowingly installed brake pads that failed or fuel injectors that caught fire in their cars. Jack’s boss tells him to get out and that he’s fired. Jack counters with another idea. He requests that he be paid as an outside consultant and that his job will be never to tell anyone the secrets that he knows. Jack’s boss stands and dials for security from his desk phone. Jack punches himself in the face. Blood trickles from his nose. He hits himself again and falls backward onto a glass table, shattering it. “Why would you do that?!”, he yells. He hits himself again and the frame freezes. “For some reason I thought of my first fight with Tyler,” says Jack, in voice-over. He knocks down a glass bookshelf, shattering it as well. Jack’s boss stands in shock, witnessing this man beat himself to a pulp. Jack is covered in blood and glass. He crawls over to his boss and grabs his hands, covering them in his blood. “Just give me the money, like I asked, and you’ll never have to see me again,” he asks. At that moment, the security guards kick down the door and enter the office. “Thank God,” cries Jack, “Please don’t hit me again.” He begins to pretend to cry. Shocked employees stand outside, dismayed at the violence they now believe their boss is capable of.

The next shot tracks Jack as he makes his way down the halls of the office. He is pushing a shopping cart full of a computer, fax machine, phone, and copier. His face is stained with blood but he cheerfully whistles while being accompanied by two security guards. Jack says in his voice-over that he also has secured travel vouchers and a full year’s salary. “We now had corporate sponsorship.”

The other members of Fight Club are seen carrying out various acts of vandalism as part of further homework assignments. Jack and Tyler walk down a street together, carrying baseball bats. They bash the bumpers of parked cars, setting off their car alarms. They each ask the other about various chapters of fight club that have sprung up in neighboring towns. Each denies knowledge or responsibility in starting them, meaning individual members are doing it themselves.

Jack and Tyler stop outside of a convenience store. Tyler reaches into a backpack and retrieves a revolver. Jack asks him what he’s doing. Tyler replies that it is a homework assignment. He tells Jack to meet him behind the store. Jack is concerned but does as he’s told. Tyler emerges from the back of the store with a frightened convenience store clerk named Raymond. Tyler tells him to get on his knees. He takes Raymond’s wallet and asks him what he wanted to do with his life. Raymond confesses he wanted to be a veterinarian. Tyler tells him he needs to go back to school in order to do that. He tells Raymond that he’s going to keep his license and check in on him in a few months. If Raymond isn’t making strides toward becoming a vet, Tyler says he will kill him. Raymond runs off after Tyler lets him go. Jack asks what the point of that was. Tyler tells him that Raymond is free now to live his life and to take control of it. Jack examines the revolver to find that it was never loaded.

The next morning Jack is seated at the table in the kitchen when Marla comes downstairs. She tells him not to worry, that she will leave soon. Jack says it’s not a problem if she wants to stay. He asks her what she’s getting out of her relationship with Tyler. Suddenly Jack hears noise coming from the basement. Marla hears nothing, asking him what was going on the day that Jack came over to check her breast for a lump. Jack opens the door to the basement. Tyler is at the bottom of the stairs. He asks what they are talking about. Jack says “nothing.” As Marla inquires for more information, Jack, prompted by Tyler, abruptly ends the conversation. Marla leaves, frustrated but concerned. Jack descends the stairs to find that Tyler has built bunk beds. The door bell rings upstairs.

The next scene finds a young “applicant” on the porch to the house, dressed all in black. Jack asks what is going on. Tyler explains that any applicant is to be initially rejected on any grounds: too young, too old, too thin, too fat, anything. Tyler does not explain who the applicants are or what they are applying for.

The applicant stays out on the porch for several days. Each day he is asked to leave. Jack comes out with a broom and begins striking the applicant, telling him he will go back inside and get a shovel. Eventually, after a few days, Tyler invites the man inside, where the applicant shaves his head. Bob and Angel Face appear at the door where they are subject to the same abuse before being admitted.

In the next scene we see that the number of “Space Monkeys” (what Tyler calls the applicants) has grown. Jack says that Tyler is building an army but that the purpose of the army was unclear. The space monkeys just trust Tyler. They work in the backyard while Tyler stands over them preaching from a megaphone.

Jack comes home one day to find the space monkeys corralled around the TV. They cheer upon seeing news footage of the destruction of an office building. The space monkeys have painted a giant smiley face on the building, which is in flames. Jack is shocked. He asks what is going on. The space monkeys answer that the first rule of Project Mayhem is “You do not ask questions.” Jack shoots Tyler a look. Tyler slinks away without a word. The news broadcast indicates that the police have linked these acts of vandalism to “underground boxing clubs.”

The following scene takes place at a banquet hall, a policeman’s ball. The members of Project Mayhem make up the entire catering staff. The chief of police excuses himself from his table and makes his way to the bathroom. The space monkeys follow him, Tyler and Jack included. The space monkeys don ski masks and tackle the chief of police to the ground. They tell him to call off his investigation and announce that there are no underground clubs. If he doesn’t, Tyler threatens, the space monkeys will cut off his testicles. The police chief agrees.

The space monkeys burst out of the doors of the hotel into an alley, drunk with glee. Tyler musses Angel Face’s hair and puts his arm around him. Jack notices. He eyes Angel Face with jealousy.

The scene shifts to the basement of Lou’s Tavern. Jack and Angel Face circle each other, surrounded by the cheers of other members. Angel Face takes a few swings at Jack, connecting here and there. Jack humors him and then suddenly lashes out, knocking Angel Face to the ground. He straddles Angel Face, knocking his hands out of the way, and begins ruthlessly pummeling his face. “I wanted to destroy something beautiful,” says Jack in his voice-over. When Jack is done, Angel Face is lying in a pool of blood. Tyler tells the space monkeys to get Angel Face to a hospital.

Tyler and Jack exit Lou’s, an obvious tension between them. A car pulls up for them as a hard rain begins to fall. Jack and Tyler get in with two other space monkeys riding in the back. Tyler drives through the rain. Jack can’t hold his tongue anymore. He asks why he wasn’t told about Project Mayhem. Tyler tells him to forget what he thinks he knows about him and especially what Jack thinks he knows about himself and Tyler. Jack is hurt. Tyler confesses that it was he who blew up Jack’s condo. Jack is shocked but there’s no time to process this as Tyler begins steering the car into oncoming traffic. Jack screams as the other cars swerve out of the way. He snaps. “Fuck you! Fuck Fight Club! I am sick of all your shit!” he yells. Tyler only smiles at this before putting on his seat-belt and letting go of the steering wheel, telling Jack that he needs to stop trying to control everything and just let go. The car crashes into a stalled car on the side of the road and flips over on an embankment. The four men exit, shaken but alive. “We just had a near-life experience!” exclaims Tyler.

Jack wakes up on his bed in Tyler’s house. Tyler is there, preaching but Jack is in and out of consciousness. Finally he comes to but Tyler is not there. Jack searches the house but only finds dozens of space monkeys working feverishly. They are making large batches of soap. Jack grabs a large bottle of vodka and makes his way outside to the garden. More space monkeys are working outside. Marla appears and asks Jack who all these people are. Jack answers, “Paper Street Soap Company.” She asks if she can come in. Jack says that Tyler is gone. She is saddened and dismayed and walks off. Jack watches her go before hearing a commotion from the kitchen.

Jack runs into the kitchen to find several members of Project Mayhem have returned from a mission. Bob was one of them and he is now dead. They carry his body in and place it on the table. Jack asks what happened. A space monkey explains that they were on a homework assignment, destroying a piece of corporate art and wrecking a chain coffee store. They were pursued by security and police. One of the police shot at them and hit Bob, killing him. Angel Face argues that they have to bury the body. Jack says no, that Bob is a person. A space monkey tells Jack that in Project Mayhem, there are no names. Jack disagrees and tells them that this man was his friend and his name is Robert Paulson. “His name is Robert Paulson,” repeat the space monkeys. They begin to chant this phrase repeatedly. Jack tells them to stop. When they don’t he runs upstairs to Tyler’s room. There he finds used airline coupon stubs. Tyler has been traveling. The phone rings. It’s Detective Stern. He wants Jack to come in to the police station and meet. Jack hangs up, panicked.


By beating himself up Jack is able to not only shift the power balance between employee and employer but actually reverse it. When the guards come in to see his boss standing over Jack, this shift is complete. If Jack were to press charges no one would believe his boss's assertion that Jack did all this damage to himself. Jack's actions demonstrate the extremity of his will and also signal to his boss that there is nothing he can threaten Jack with. This man will harm himself. Threatening him is useless.

Some scholars also see this act of self-abuse as an an attempt by Jack to exact control over himself, to impose his own absent father figure upon himself. Because Jack exhibits this behavior specifically before an authority figure, a boss in this case, he demonstrates his desire to be his own boss. This demonstration simultaneously displays his control or desire for control over himself as well as his unwillingness to be controlled by an external social construct. Tyler's manifestation as a father figure can be seen as Jack's desire to create an authority figure to mentor him and impose a kind of order over him. It is also important to note that this is the only episode in which Jack consciously beats himself up, despite the fact that all of his altercations with Tyler are also, in fact, instances of Jack beating himself up.

This segment finds Jack and Tyler's relationship further deteriorating. Tyler is handing out homework assignments to members of Fight Club without any input from Jack. When he and Jack visit a convenience store, Tyler pulls a gun from a bag and tells Jack to meet him in the back. Jack is stunned; Fight Club was never about killing people. Raymond K. Hessel, a miserable convenience store clerk is dragged outside by Tyler. Though Tyler doesn't kill Raymond and instead frees him from his mundane existence, Jack is not aware of what Tyler's plans are anymore. Tyler is operating without Jack's involvement, and this threatens Jack. Although he does not know it, Jack has lost control of his creation.

This growing division between them is revisited when Jack shares another scene in the house's kitchen with Marla. She is used to the nature of their interactions now and says she will leave and get out of his way. Jack is nearly apologetic, telling her its okay if she wants to stay and talk. Marla is surprised but she and Jack chat before Jack brings up Tyler, breaking his promise to Tyler to never discuss him with Marla. Marla begins to suspect that something is seriously wrong with Jack as he begins to talk about Tyler in the third person. Tyler immediately takes control of Jack and ends the conversation. Marla inquires as to what happened to Jack's hand. Notice that Jack is afraid to answer the question. Tyler's relationships with others are abusive. His sexual relationship with Marla is extremely unhealthy for her. Jack overhears them insulting each other numerous times. After this, Tyler casts Marla out each time, and she only comes back for more. With Jack, Tyler engages in another type of abuse. Though he claims to be pursuing a goal of setting Jack and the other men in fight club free, Tyler uses the esteem these men have for him to control them.

When Jack comes home to see the news report on TV about the vandalism being committed by Project Mayhem, he asks what is going on. The official response is that the first rule of Project Mayhem is that one does not ask questions. Instead of explaining himself, Tyler slinks away. Project Mayhem marks a dramatic turn for what Tyler hopes to achieve and how he hopes to do it. Where Fight Club challenged each man to shed any ascribed notions of who he was to find his true self, Project Mayhem requires its members to shed their identities completely. The men dress in identical clothes and shave their heads like military recruits. Potential recruits must wait for several days without shelter or encouragement outside of the house. The only possessions they can bring with them are two pairs of all black clothes, mirroring the contents of Jack's suitcase before it was destroyed. Tyler stands over the new recruits indoctrinating them with his philosophy while they work. They are mindless slaves, exactly what they were before joining fight club. They have simply traded in one set of handcuffs for another. Tyler essentially becomes their new boss.

Regardless, Jack still competes for Tyler's attention. When he notices Tyler's affection toward Angel Face, he beats the young man to a pulp in the next fight in a jealous rage, almost like a jealous lover. Jack seems to fear that Angel Face could replace him, revealing a basic inequality in their relationship: Tyler doesn't need Jack, but Jack needs Tyler. Jack beats Angel Face viciously, stating that he "wanted to destroy something beautiful." This mirrors Tyler's intention to topple civilization itself and to replace it with his own order. Jack also uses the opportunity to draw Tyler's attention. As a result they argue in the car following the fight. Tyler pushes Jack too far, steering the car into oncoming traffic. Jack snaps and tells Tyler he is tired of his antics. He wasn't informed of anything about Project Mayhem. Tyler brushes him off and changes the subject by admitting to being the one who blew up his apartment. This deflection is enough to once again subjugate Jack. Every time Jack feels he may be gaining the upper hand, Tyler is able to reassert his power by preying on Jack's weaknesses and insecurities.

Bob's death marks a final turning point for Jack. Seeing his dead friend, and the way the Space Monkeys seek to bury him like a piece of meat, he sees that Tyler's philosophy has gone too far. Instead of imposing a new system of values, Project Mayhem seeks to destroy all of them and reinstate a new world order in Tyler's vision, with Tyler conveniently positioned at the top. The character of Bob is essentially a sacrificial lamb in the film. In literary or cinematic terms, a sacrificial lamb is a character whose death occurs to motivate the main character into action. Like Bob, this type of character is usually naive and innocent.