The Narrator returns to the house to find that Bob is dead. Bob and other members of Project Mayhem were out on a routine “homework assignment”—destroying a payphone. During the operation, the police thought that Bob was holding a gun instead of a drill, and they shot him. After Bob’s death, the remaining Project Mayhem members repeat Bob’s real name—Robert Paulson, and that night, in fight club meetings across the country, members chant, “Robert Paulson” again and again.
While Palahniuk questions the space monkeys’ plans at many points in the novel, here most of his criticism is directed at the police: the police murder Bob because they mistook a drill for a gun, a clear example of excessive force. The Narrator is sympathetic to Bob and seems to genuinely care about him (in a way, Bob is almost as much the cause of the novel’s events as Marla Singer, since it was with Bob that the Narrator first cried). In life, the space monkeys are dehumanized, but in death they acquire an identity and a name. Yet the process by which they acquire a name symbolizes Project Mayhem’s almost religious collectivism and “death worship.”
The Narrator, furious, remembers meeting Bob long ago, when he was still going to support groups. He goes to the nearest fight club meeting and yells out that fight club and Project Mayhem are over. The members of Project Mayhem march toward the Narrator, chanting, “Prepare to evict the member.” The Narrator shouts, “I’m Tyler Durden,” but the fight club members throw him out and lock the door.
The Narrator thinks that the group has taken things too far: in trying to lash out at civilization, they’ve caused people to die needlessly. But the Narrator finds that the members of fight club are loyal to Tyler, not him. Fight club and Project Mayhem are designed (by Tyler himself) to survive without a leader: even after the Narrator/Tyler protests, the group knows to carry on without him.