Fight Club | Study Guide

Chuck Palahniuk

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Fight Club | Chapter 20 | Summary



The narrator holds a gun to the head of Raymond K. Hessel, a stranger, as he is leaving his workplace, a Korner Mart. Tyler has assigned this homework to Project Mayhem; everyone has to bring him 12 driver's licenses as proof of 12 "human sacrifices." Raymond cries; the narrator forces him to reveal what he once wanted to do with his life. Raymond says he wanted to be a veterinarian. The narrator keeps Raymond's driver's license. He tells Raymond he must quit his job and study to be a vet; if he doesn't, the narrator will come back and kill him, he says.


When the narrator was first getting to know Tyler, he wondered if self-destruction was the answer, rather than self-improvement. For Raymond K. Hessel, improvement comes from being threatened with destruction. As with the game of chicken, the threat of death is supposed to uncover the truest desires.

For someone who says things such as "You're not your sad little wallet," the narrator is quick to assume Raymond is his sad little job. The narrator extorts a promise from Raymond to improve his life and live his dream. The assignment assumes Raymond can make of his life whatever he wants; it assumes an economy that never forces anyone, under threat of starvation or homelessness, into work they don't love. The narrator, or Tyler, hasn't considered whether Raymond will really be better off. He worked at Korner Mart because he was afraid of starving; now he'll go to vet school because he's afraid of being executed by a madman.

While the narrator threatens Raymond, he also notices the hold Tyler has on him. He orders Raymond to be free, but he himself does "what Tyler wants me to do." Not only does he notice "Tyler's words coming out of [his] mouth"; he also says he is Tyler's mouth and hands. He notices this makes him like the other space monkeys: "Everyone in Project Mayhem is part of Tyler Durden, and vice versa."

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