Fight Club


Chuck Palahniuk

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Fight Club: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

The Narrator stands over a man called Raymond Hessel, pointing a gun at his head. The Narrator’s homework assignment from Tyler is to make 12 “human sacrifices” and get 12 driver’s licenses to prove it. The Narrator tracks down a “loser” named Raymond Hessel, attacks him, and pushes him to the ground. He grabs Hessel’s wallet and learns his name and address. Hessel cries pathetically as the Narrator looks through the wallet. The Narrator asks his victim, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Eventually, Raymond cries out that he wanted to be a veterinarian. The Narrator lets Raymond stand up, and he tells Raymond to enroll in veterinary school tomorrow. The Narrator keeps Raymond’s license so that he can keep “tabs.” As Raymond runs away, the Narrator thinks that tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond’s life. He also realizes that he’s just doing Tyler’s bidding.
In this short chapter, even the Narrator becomes Tyler’s pawn. The Narrator tries to make Raymond think that he (Raymond) is going to die. The Narrator’s goal, it would seem, is to inspire Raymond to be a better person, since the Narrator believes that being close to death and pain can lead to enlightenment. Even though the Narrator knows how painful and frightening a brush with death can be (he’s just had one), he still “passes on his lesson” to Raymond. The fact that the Narrator lets Raymond live, yet also thinks that he’s doing Tyler’s bidding, suggests that Tyler does not to want his followers to sacrifice people literally (i.e., kill them); Tyler wants them to pass on the lessons of Project Mayhem and essentially torture people into enlightenment. We never see what happens to Raymond (and it’s quite plausible that Raymond’s encounter with the Narrator won’t make him happier or wiser at all—he’ll just think that some faux-philosopher mugged him), calling into question whether Tyler’s worship of death and violence leads to any real lasting enlightenment, or just a perpetual quest for greater thrills and danger.
Consumerism, Perfection, and Modernity Theme Icon
Masculinity in Modern Society Theme Icon
Death, Pain, and the “Real” Theme Icon
Rebellion and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Repression and the Unconscious Mind Theme Icon