“If you’re male and you’re Christian and living in America, your father is your model for God. And if you never knew your father, if your father bails out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about God?” What do you believe about God? We believe what we are told about God. But look at your relationship with your father; the lack there of, the past, and the present. Now look at your relationship/view of God. See the similarities?
In Fight Club, both Tyler Durden and the unnamed narrator have no relationship with their fathers, due to both a complete absence and a bail out. Because of this misfortune neither Tyler nor the narrator grew up with a strong masculine figure in their life, which impacted both differently. The narrator seemingly becomes the guy who settles for things, the guy who works 9 p.m to 5 p.m, never questioning, never changing. On the other hand Tyler appears to be more of a macho, masculine man and this is what draws the narrator to him upon their meeting.
After a business trip the narrator arrives at his apartment only to find it blown to smithereens; his perfect life seemingly ruined. Everything he had worked for and paid for was burnt, shattered and sprinkled all over the block. Upon seeing this, he calls Tyler, thinking “deliver me, Tyler” hoping for an escape; for a savior. Just as he had hoped for, Tyler pulls through and offers to meet the narrator at a bar and offers him shelter with one stipulation: “I want you to hit me as hard as you can.” The narrator punches Tyler, and Tyler punches back … soon enough a crowd is drawn and the beginnings of fight club is seen as well as a bond between the narrator and Tyler.
“The first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club … the second rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.” Tyler quickly steps up as leader of this group and is soon recognized as more than another member, but almost a deity. To all of these average, 9 to 5 working men, Tyler is something they all long to be; someone they can look up to. Tyler does becomes their god, despite the relationship how good or how bad any of them have with their fathers. Tyler is their fight club father, he is their leader, and their dictator.
After the narrator moves in with Tyler the bond between the two is strengthened all the time. Tyler begins by teaching the narrator how to make soap, explaining “with enough soap … you could blow up the whole world.” From that day on the narrator seems to become more and more involved with Tyler’s life; going to work with him sabotaging fancy dinner parties, going to fight club and admiring Tyler’s leadership. Soap making becomes more than just a hobby; it is now a source of income.
While Tyler seems to be nothing but a good guy, things begin to get out of control. While the narrator is finally able to overcome his insomnia and sleep more, Tyler is out causing trouble. Fight clubs spring up all over the U.S., and Tyler becomes this mysterious figure. Then, from the various fight clubs, Project Mayhem emerges with the goal to “blast the world free of history.” When the narrator discovers this, his insomnia returns and is often unable to find Tyler. The narrator discovers the mayhem and mischief that is being caused by Tyler’s deadly project, but is still confused about what exactly is happening. To figure out what Tyler has done, he asks many of the project members, but all of them refuse to tell him anything stating “the first rule about Project Mayhem is you don’t talk about Project Mayhem.” While from a religious sense God is not trying to make us all his monkeys in the destruction of the world; Project Mayhem reflects often what life is. We are educated and trained in a specific field, but for what? To those unknowing — which is most everybody — the big picture is unclear and only the small, minuscule details are in focus. “The fifth rule about Project Mayhem is you have to trust Tyler.”
While the Project Mayhem members seem content with their mindless jobs and assignments, the narrator isn’t. He has to know where Tyler is, and then sets out on a nationwide search for him. The narrator’s search for Tyler is much like many religous people seeking God. He was seemingly there at one time and everything made sense, but we fall asleep for a few hours and everything is gone, everything is a mystery; Tyler … God, doesn’t make sense anymore. After an exhausting search, the narrator finally finds relief from his insomnia in Seattle, only to finally find Tyler.
The discovery of Tyler would seem to be the end of the narrator’s journey, but it is not. Tyler then reveals more and more about what he has done while the narrator was sleeping. When we finally “find” God, we think it’s finally over, but more questions and more events unfold that begin to baffle us even more. It’s only in the end are we able to haggle and come to terms with God; it’s only in the end we are able to haggle and come to terms with our inner demons.
If our idea of God is similar to that of our fathers … what about those with no fathers? They will eventually find a male figure in their life, and suddenly, they are God. Everything they’ve ever wanted to be, they are. Tyler Durden proved to be a willing candidate for a father figure, a model for God, perhaps; a spokesperson for change and action. Tyler Durden became the epitome of perfection for the members of fight clubs around the nation, and the selfless Project Mayhem members. To the narrator, Tyler was the father figure he never had … a model for God he never had.
Check out a pivotal scene from the film “Fight Club”, based on the above book: