Not very often does a profound, life-altering figure surface via literature. However, Fight Club, a novel written by Chuck Palahniuk, ushered in one of the most revolutionarily minded characters literature has even seen. The story is set in an urban, United States city and suburb. The name of the city is never revealed, nor is it of any importance. The purpose of the setting is solely to give the reader the sense that this could happen anywhere is America. The book tells the story of a man dealing with his unhappiness with his own life, how he copes with it, and how he corrects the corporate tyranny plaguing the lives of every citizen in the county. In addition, the story consists of several characters, such as the narrator, Marla Singer, and Robert Paulson.
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But, even though the story is mainly told from the narrator’s perspective, it is Tyler Durden, the narrator’s alter ego, that steals the show. Tyler Durden is everything one should aspire to be. He is handsome, intelligent, decisive, and lives entirely without fear. He is dynamic in every realm of thinking, for the layers of his character run deeper than the mind can at first perceive. Tyler Durden is many things, but above all, he is a powerful, influential leader, he is spiritual, and most importantly, he is free.
Initially, Tyler Durden is one of the greatest leaders to ever be put in print. He was able to entirely resocialize a makeshift army, convince them to level corporate buildings, and save their lives while doing so. The people Tyler led were lost, living their life without meaning or purpose, and simply existing. He enlightened them by showing them that they do not need what society tells them they need. He shows this by saying, “Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy shit they don’t really need” (Palahniuk, 132).
Here, helps to detach his followers from their job obligations and their need for material things. Also, Durden acts as a leader from removing peoples’ personal identities, taking away their
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sense of personal entitlement, and bringing everyone together as one. He said, “You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all a part of the same compost pile” (Palahniuk, 120). He is not trying to insult anyone, he is simply trying to remove the warped perception of life that society tries to instill in the minds of the masses. Tyler Durden was not trying to brainwash anyone. He had his ideals for the way people should live, for he saw the corruption that had infected the lives of nearly every human being alive.
Furthermore, regardless of the violence Tyler endorsed, he was overall a very spiritual man. Tyler held no value for material things such as houses, cars, or furniture. He saw these things as nothing more than false goals set to force people into the slavery that is the corporate machine. Society makes people believe that they need these things to be happy, and the only way to acquire these things is to become a well-functioning cog. Tyler said, “Getting fired […] is the best thing that could happen to any of us. That way, we’d quit treading water and do something with our lives” (Palahniuk, 74).
Essentially, jobs are the gateway to the population’s demise. People are born, pursue an education so they can work, work as a slave to material possessions, and exist until their life is nearly at its end. Tyler sees this, and he does not buy in to it whatsoever. He feels that only through the loss and destruction can one truly see themselves for who they truly are. He makes this abundantly clear when he said, “I’m breaking my attachment to physical power and possessions, because only through destroying myself can I discover the greater power of my spirit” (Palahniunk, 71). People must not judge themselves by the amount of shoes they own, or the size of the house they live in. Material possessions are only valuable to someone with a dollar. Tyler knew that the true key to happiness was through self-enlightenment, integrity, and knowing that the life he lived was worth something much more valuable than a antique mahogany coffee table.
Finally, if there was one word to describe Tyler Durden, it would unarguably be free. Society does an excellent job of establishing what is right, wrong, and how one should live their life in order to be happy. It is a way of controlling the masses and keeping everyone on line, so that the people at the top of the pyramid may reap the benefits without anyone making too much of a fuss about it. Most people just keep their blinders on and tread along with the rest of the world, but not Tyler Durden. He found a way to free himself from the norms set by society.
He does not tie identify himself with a job, a home, or a set moral compass. He said, “It’s only after you’ve lost everything, that you’re free to do anything” (Palahniunk, 50). People make decisions based on what they could lose, what consequences they will have, and how people will think of them. However, if one had nothing, they could make decisions based on what they truly want. It is fear that ties people down, and stops them from living the life they dream of. Also, Tyler said, “The liberator who destroys my property, is fighting to save my spirit. The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free” (Palahniuk,110). Clearly, Tyler is free because he has nothing to lose. Detachment from societal norms saying one needs things to be happy has allowed Tyler to find true meaning and happiness in his life. Tyler lives without responsibilities and fear, and as a result, he is “free in all of the ways that you are not.”
In conclusion, labeling Tyler Durden as a dynamic character is a bit of an understatement. Tyler is the embodiment of several philosophical ideals that are in every way profound, revolutionary, and brilliant. He is one of the most influential characters, coming from any median, to myself personally, and to a good portion of the world. He was a fantastic, intelligent, charismatic leader, a spiritual, worldly man, and free in every way one could ever wish to be. In order to truly improve one’s self, they must first be destroyed.See More on Novel