Fight Club

Fight Club Summary and Analysis of Chapter 29 and Chapter 30


Chapter 29

The Narrator awakens again to find Tyler standing next to him. He is at the house on Paper Street, in his old room. All his belongings are gone. Everyone has moved out. The space monkeys are gone. Tyler tells him to get up. Tyler says it is time for his martyr death. The Narrator asks Tyler just to kill him where he is. Tyler tells him it has to be bigger than that. The Narrator refuses, telling Tyler he’s used him enough. Tyler says if he doesn’t, they’ll go after Marla. The Narrator gets up and they go out to a waiting car.

We return to the first scene in the novel, with the Narrator and Tyler on top of the Parker Morris building, waiting for it to explode. The Narrator is on the roof holding a gun in his own mouth, talking to Tyler. The minutes are counting down.

Suddenly, Marla appears with the support group members behind her. Tyler disappears. The Narrator yells at her to get out of the building, that it is rigged with explosives. Marla tells him that she thinks she likes him too. She emphasizes that she knows the difference between him and Tyler.

The clock counts down to zero but there is no explosion. The Narrator realizes that Tyler must have used paraffin for the explosives. Paraffin has never worked for him. Instead, the Narrator pulls the trigger and a bullet tears through his cheek, leaving him with a crooked smile.

Chapter 30

The Narrator wakes up in a mental institution, though he thinks he is in heaven. Everything is white. He finds that he can sleep in heaven. People write him to say they remember him and are hoping he gets better soon. The Narrator refers to his psychiatrist as God. He tells the psychiatrist that we are not special or trash, we just are. The psychiatrist disagrees. “You can’t teach God anything,” the Narrator thinks to himself.

Every once in a while he gets a letter from Marla. He wants to go back but not yet. Every once in a while somebody with a bruised face or missing teeth comes by and says “Hi, Mr. Durden. Everything’s going according to plan. We look forward to getting you back.”


Once again, the Narrator finds himself waking up in a place where he used to live. Like the condominium, his room at the house on Paper Street is missing all of his belongings, presumably removed or destroyed by Tyler. The Narrator initially wants nothing to do with Tyler anymore. He asks him to just kill him where he is, a strange request, considering his awareness that Tyler is not real. He rejects Tyler’s demands to get up until Tyler threatens to go after Marla. The Narrator’s true feelings for her are strong enough that he feels a need to protect her. Besides her, the Narrator feels he has no reason to continue living. By holding onto the thought of helping her, he is hanging onto whatever shred of himself still exists. Without Marla, he may no longer exist and Tyler would be in charge all the time.

Palahniuk returns to the first chapter where we first met Tyler and the Narrator as they were on the roof of the Parker-Morris building. Now we know that it’s really the Narrator there by himself, holding a gun in his own mouth. Tyler wants this to also be a big operatic death for the Narrator, though Tyler tells him that they won’t really die. There are two ways to interpret his statement. Initially, it seems Tyler is telling the Narrator that they are legends now, that their deaths won’t end the movement they started. They will be forever remembered. However, the explosives do not work, meaning Tyler could also have meant he had no intention of actually endangering their lives. Tyler mixed them with paraffin which had never worked for him before. The Narrator shoots himself through the cheek out of desperation.

This act, a sort of murder and suicide, allows the Narrator to re-set his reality (The film wisely refers to the scene as taking place at "ground zero" to reiterate the Narrator's desire to re-set). Although the Narrator pulls the trigger, it is also Tyler whose hand is implicated. By removing Tyler, the Narrator can begin to focus his attention on his own actual issues and struggles. Where Tyler presented an external self to exert control over the Narrator, now the Narrator must destroy Tyler to return that control to himself.

For the final time in the novel, the Narrator wakes up again, but this time he is not at home. He describes his location as Heaven though Palahniuk makes it clear that it is actually a mental institution. The Narrator addresses his psychiatrist as God. Earlier in the novel, Palahniuk touched on the idea that the father figure is a model for God. Here, the Narrator sits across from who he believes to be God. He disagrees with the psychiatrist during his sessions. "God" is antiquated and outdated, just as Tyler felt their fathers were. It is unclear if the Narrator has truly disposed of Tyler or whether he will become eventually become him. Marla writes to him to tell him that he will one day be able to return. The Narrator confesses that he does not want to yet because he knows the members of Project Mayhem are waiting for him. This implies that the Narrator will never be able to escape from his creation. As far as the larger world is concerned, he is Tyler Durden. Although Tyler may not have destroyed civilization and instituted his vision of a new era, the Narrator's world has been forever altered. His reality is one that will always be tainted by Tyler's existence. Some scholars have also read this to mean that Tyler has become the dominant personality, and does not want to leave the hospital because he is surrounded by his followers.

Before shooting himself through the cheek, the Narrator comes to the conclusion that he created Tyler so that he could be with Marla. The absolute lack of connection and meaning that was his life fell away for a moment when he met someone who was just like him. Marla had arrived at the support groups for the same reason he had. While he initially blamed her for his problems, she becomes his savior. She allows him to break away from Tyler and all the insecurities and personal issues that created him. Where the Narrator had once stated that it was fight club that saved him, in the end it is Marla that allows him to forego his attachment to Tyler and begin to confront himself as himself, instead of through an external projection. He seems to choose her over Tyler, particularly in the film adaptation.

Palahniuk, however, ends on a sinister note. Fight club and Project Mayhem appear to continue without Tyler or the Narrator. Though the movement doesn’t require Tyler Durden’s presence to maintain itself, it also means that the Narrator may never really be free of Tyler. While he appears to have disappeared from the Narrator’s life, there is no indication that this is permanent. The irreverence with which the Narrator speaks to his psychiatrist, for example, has shades of language that Tyler would employ, suggesting that some part of him still inhabits the Narrator's mind or has already taken it over.