Annotated Fight Club

fight-club-70125468371_xlarge.jpegYou aren’t alive anywhere like you’re alive at fight club. When it’s you and one other guy under that one light in the middle of all those watching. Fight club isn’t about winning or losing fights. Fight club isn’t about words. You see a guy come to fight club for the first time, and his ass is a loaf of white bread. You see this same guy here six months later, and he looks carved out of wood. This guy trusts himself to handle anything. There’s grunting and noise at fight club like at the gym, but fight club isn’t about looking good. There’s hysterical shouting in tongues like at church, and when you wake up Sunday afternoon you feel saved. (p.51)

This quote from Chuck Palahniuk’s “Fight Club” comes from after the creation of Fight Club. The narrator tells us that “you aren’t alive anywhere like you’re alive at fight club.” His experiences during the fights have rejuvenated him. They have made him feel more alive than he ever was. It’s as if he had been dead or asleep for all these years, and now he is awake. And it’s all thanks to Fight Club. Perhaps he is telling us this to make us jealous. To make us want to join the club and be alive as well.
Palahniuk tells us that “Fight club isn’t about winning or losing fights. Fight club isn’t about words.” In fact, as best put by Jim Uhl’s screenplay version, “When the fight was over, nothing was solved but nothing mattered.” These men weren’t beating each other up for a reason other than feeling alive. There were no rewards or prizes. No one was insulted or provoked. It’s as if these men wanted to beat the crap out of each other because their primordial instincts told them to.
When a guy first comes to fight club, “his ass is a loaf of white bread. You see this same guy here six months later, and he looks carved out of wood.” In a comical way, Palahniuk compares normal people to loaves of bread. They are plain and common as well as soft and fragile like white bread. But after six months as he describes, these same men are transformed into wooden boards. They are hard and solid yet subtly, still able to be broken. Palahniuk is smart and careful to compare them to something carved out of wood rather than something harder such as stone because wood is still organic. It can still be snapped in half.
“There’s grunting and noise at fight club like at the gym, but fight club isn’t about looking good.” There is only the raw intensity of two men, beating each other to a pulp. Both the men grunt and moan as they gasp for air or exalt all their energy in a haymaker. Onlookers are cheering, but not for who wins or loses. They cheer for the sake of being alive like the “hysterical shouting in tongues like at church.” And also like at church, when these men “wake up Sunday afternoon [they] feel saved.”

Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. New York City, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1996. Print

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One Response to “Annotated Fight Club”

  1. Kevin L. Ferguson Says:

    You picked a really interesting passage to annotate. I wonder about the second-person “you” here; is that something that continues throughout? Might that also connect with the larger theme of identity (and the loss of a first-person identity)?

    I also couldn’t help but see that “loaf of bread” also connects to the religious theme you emphasize at the end of this paragraph. It seems “fight club” is a place, like church and the gym, that represents more than just a place, but also a set of ideas. I wonder if you could draw out more of the distinction between church, gym, and fight club? Is “fight club” right in the middle of those other two?

Leave a Reply

Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar