Fight Club

Fight Club Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The Narrator flies back to his home, only to find that the airline has retained his luggage. Apparently, the Narrator’s suitcase was vibrating during baggage inspection, suggesting that it might have contained a bomb (though it’s probably just an electric razor, or a dildo). The Narrator leaves the airport without a bag, only to discover that his condominium has blown up. Everything in the Narrator’s life was in his condo, he thinks: his furniture, his dishware. Previously, buying furniture was like a drug for the Narrator: he’d buy “one last” sofa, only to buy another one a month later. The things you own, he thinks, ended up owning you.
The Narrator has a minor problem (he loses his bag, because the airline thinks it might be a bomb) only to face a major problem: he loses his worldly possessions because there was a bomb in his condominium (as is later revealed). The loss of his possessions forces the Narrator to confront the truth; he was addicted to buying things. In retrospect, the Narrator can see that he’s devoted his life to consumerism—he’s a slave to his own appetite for appliances and furniture, addicted to things.
Themes
Consumerism, Perfection, and Modernity Theme Icon
The Narrator arrives back at his condominium to find police officers gathered outside. They tell the Narrator that he might have left his gas on, or there might have been a leak. Eventually, the gas could have caused an explosion. The Narrator is horrified at the thought that all the mustard in his fridge—14 different kinds—has been destroyed. The police officers tell him that they haven’t ruled out the possibility of arson.
In a darkly comic moment, the Narrator seems more upset with the loss of his jars of mustard than with the fact that other people might have been hurt. The Narrator is so obsessed with products and appliances that he can only think about products, not people (or, put another way, his possessions take on the importance of real human beings). The passage also foreshadows the police’s investigation into the explosion.
Themes
Consumerism, Perfection, and Modernity Theme Icon
Death, Pain, and the “Real” Theme Icon
With nowhere to go, the Narrator calls Tyler Durden and explains what happened to him. Tyler is amused, and agrees to meet the Narrator at a bar. They drink heavily, and eventually Tyler offers the Narrator a place to crash. In return for the favor, Tyler asks the Narrator to hit him as hard as he can.
The passage ends with Tyler asking the Narrator to hurt him. In a way, Tyler’s desire parallels the Narrator’s need to go to cancer support groups: they both want to experience suffering to jolt themselves out of boredom and experience something “real.” Where the Narrator has been experiencing suffering vicariously through suffering people, Tyler wants to feel actual, physical pain.
Themes
Consumerism, Perfection, and Modernity Theme Icon
Death, Pain, and the “Real” Theme Icon
Rebellion and Sacrifice Theme Icon