We’re at the halfway point of the 30DBC, and today I’ll be tackling my favourite male character. For today, it is actually very difficult for me to discuss this “favourite male character”, and if you realise who it is, then you’ll realise why. So don’t mind me as I render myself speechless at some points in this blog post. But, I’m sure (for those who have read Fight Club or watched the film) you will understand why …
The Narrator in Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
The Narrator of Fight Club remains nameless throughout the novel for many specific reasons, one of them I will not spoil here – I refuse to spoil here (even though a lot of other descriptions of the Narrator may decide to reveal why). Let’s just say that you will need to read the book to find out why.
One of the more straightforward, and effective, reasons why the Narrator is nameless is because he is a representative of all of us, the collective average, everyday working man. His voice is that of the average, his routine is that of the average and he carries with him the frank and bitter truth that we are all part of a capitalistic society.
So, with all this man’s negativity, why do I love him as a character?
There are many reasons why I love the society-and-self-deprecating man that is the Narrator. He is an insomniac, depressed, attends help groups with various aliases, befriends a complete psycho named Tyler Durden who forces him to push the boundaries of his boring life, and makes soap from the fat of rich, vain women and sells it back to them.
The Narrator hits rock bottom and then co-creates (with Tyler Durden) the infamous (you did not hear it from me) Fight Club and then, the larger-scale Project Mayhem (which takes very literally the phrase: “watching the world burn”).
But – between all these crazy events, the reason why I love the Narrator is, first and foremost, his dry humor – one that cuts through all the poetics of literature, the illusions of day-to-day life and just punches the reader in the face, like a well-intentioned insult – like the true meaning of Fight Club. Many times I found myself laughing for the wrong reasons while reading Fight Club.
You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
Simultaneously, while appreciating the humor, I love how The Narrator speaks a truth which society is all familiar with but never consciously aware of.
You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.”
Thanks to The Narrator, I can never go into Ikea with the same sentiments any more. Now, when I enter the doors and see all the perfectly modeled room cubicles, the inviting bed and the white shelves with the same, standardized books, when I find myself aspiring to have a room just like that, I am reminded of Fight Club and it really puts a damper to my excitement – maybe for the better.
It reminds me, all of us aspire to have that particular room, we all buy the exact same, cheap, mass-produced furniture – and sadly, even the same books (every shelf with a copy of the bestsellers, Harry Potter, an atlas, a dictionary, a bible …) and, at the end of the day, once we all assemble our Ikea products in our homes, feeling exceptionally proud of ourselves, we don’t realise it – our homes are all carbon copies of one another. And, unintentionally maybe, society has done this to us – made us predictable. We think we’re original and unique –
“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
And maybe I’m now admiring Palahniuk’s writing and thought process, but to admire the character of the Narrator is, in part, to admire the author behind it.
And now, I’ll move on to the movie version of The Narrator, played by Edward Norton. Norton does The Narrator a lot of justice, he acts and appears just as tired (like literally, the Narrator suffers from insomnia) and exhausted of his life (and depression), and his tone is equally cynical of where society is heading.
If you’re not much of a reader, then maybe you want to check out the movie, it also stars Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter – but I would still suggest reading the book to get the full effect. The ending is also different from the movie. Here is a trailer to get a good idea of what the narrator is like:
And, again, as I ponder on what else I’d like to share about The Narrator, I find myself self-censoring my appreciation for him – let’s just say I didn’t expect and was in awe with the person he became. There are so many other reasons why I love the Narrator which I can’t quite speak of.
Let’s just say that there is so much more to him than just an everyday man, and the revelation of this puts into question whether normalcy is really that normal at all, that maybe we are walking contradictions, walking paradoxes. And – and that is why I love the Narrator. Fullstop.
So, once again, be sure to stop by Rhey of Sunshine‘s blog for her favourite male character. And I’ll catch you tomorrow for my favourite female character.
Till next time,