Fight Club | Study Guide

Chuck Palahniuk

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Fight Club | Chapter 17 | Summary



At the narrator's recall campaign job his boss again confronts him about a paper left in the copier. The paper is a list of supplies needed by 72 men—the number of men who can be housed in bunk beds in the Paper Street house. The list of belongings is spare: two shirts, black pants, a bowl, and so on.

When the narrator returns home, he finds a young man—an applicant—standing on the porch. Tyler tells the narrator to scream that the applicant is too young. Later he tells the narrator to scream abuse at other applicants, focusing on any trait that stands out: their age or weight, for example.

The young man on the porch is mister angel face. He continues to stand there night and day. On day three Tyler lets him in. The pattern repeats with other applicants. Eventually the house is full of "space monkeys," as the narrator calls Project Mayhem members. They do an impressive amount of gardening. Bob from Remaining Men Together also applies and is accepted. The recruits repeat Tyler's words, such as "We are nothing" and "You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake."

Marla and the narrator start spending time together, strolling in the garden. Tyler is absent; the narrator feels "dumped," the same way his father dumped him. After a month the new recruits have "Tyler's kiss" on the back of their hands. The narrator asks them if they've seen Tyler. They look at the hole in his cheek; they wink and tell him, "No, sir." On a walk in the garden the narrator sees a jawbone sticking out of the garden soil; he pushes it back under.


The list of belongings for the "space monkeys" resembles the few things the narrator used to bring on his business trips. Like the narrator, the space monkeys arrive at Paper Street with almost nothing. In terms of personality, too, they have nothing; individuality is scorned as the wish to be a "beautiful and unique snowflake." Tyler verbally abuses the recruits, breaking them down to build them up again as loyal members of Project Mayhem—loyal to Tyler. The presence of the jawbone in the garden suggests Tyler is up to something even more violent with his new project. The narrator shows concern for Marla, shielding her from the sight.

For readers who realize Tyler and the narrator are the same, it seems obvious the narrator is doing all this work: gathering recruits, burning the mark on their hands, putting them to work. The reaction of the space monkeys to the narrator's question about Tyler is another clue. To the recruits, Tyler is the man with the hole in his cheek. The space monkeys treat the narrator's question as a test or a joke. But for the narrator it is an urgent question, where Tyler is. He is attached to Tyler as to a father.

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