Fight Club | Study Guide

Chuck Palahniuk

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Fight Club | Chapter 16 | Summary



The newspaper reports an act of vandalism: Five stories of an office tower's windows were painted to form a smiling face. In the offices that stood for the eyes, the windows were broken and fires were set. In reaction, the people of the city "cried with their heads thrown back. Who would do such a thing?" The narrator wonders if this was an act of Project Mayhem. Only Tyler knows what Project Mayhem does.

The narrator explains Project Mayhem. It is split into different committees, including Mischief, Arson, Assault, and Misinformation. The committees meet on different nights. "Support groups, sort of," the narrator says. Assignments are given. Members seem to work solo: no one knows what anyone else works on. Tyler also assigns homework. Again, the tasks are completed alone: start a fight with a stranger; acquire a gun. Project Mayhem's fifth rule is "you have to trust Tyler."

A "young guy with an angel's face" comes to fight club for the first time. The narrator is in a mood to destroy. While he holds the man's head and repeatedly punches his face, the narrator dreams of destroying artistic masterpieces: "I'd do the Elgin marbles with a sledgehammer and wipe my ass with the Mona Lisa." He also wants to destroy the natural world: shoot pandas, burn the rain forest.


In the first chapter the narrator said, "I know this because Tyler does." But the events of the first chapter happen later; at this point the narrator doesn't know everything Tyler knows. He doesn't know what comes next in Project Mayhem: "nobody except Tyler knows."

The narrator and Tyler have an optimistic vision of life after civilization's destruction. It will be a natural and abundant life, an idyll. They will hunt elk downtown and dry venison on the abandoned highway. When Tyler tells the members of Project Mayhem to imagine this, they all envision themselves as survivors of civilization's collapse. This is naive; they think they can destroy the world and also survive the destruction.

Although the narrator compares the Project Mayhem committees to support groups, Marla cannot infiltrate the project. She could push her way into Remaining Men Together, among the men without testicles. But Tyler's project of smashing civilization is closed to her. Project Mayhem also differs from fight club. Project Mayhem focuses on covert actions in the world at large, and Tyler is enshrined as its leader. The fight club rules don't mention Tyler, but Project Mayhem's rules promise loyalty to Tyler.

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