Fight Club | Study Guide

Chuck Palahniuk

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Fight Club | Chapter 21 | Summary



The narrator flies from city to city on business. Everywhere he goes he sees bruised men he can tell are in fight club. He asks them about Tyler. They respond strangely; they wink at him and call him "sir." The narrator calls Marla from the road; she tells him the space monkeys at Paper Street are shaving their heads and burning off their fingerprints.

In Seattle a bartender calls him "Mr. Durden." The narrator thinks it's the hole in his cheek that makes people mistake him for Tyler. When the narrator questions the bartender, the bartender reveals "Mr. Durden" was in the bar last week. The bartender also tells him something he knows about Tyler: Tyler has a birthmark on his foot; it is dark red, and he hides it when he goes to the beach. The narrator thought only Marla and his father knew about the birthmark; "not even Tyler knows this." The bartender tells him, "Everyone knows about the birthmark."

From a motel room in Seattle the narrator calls Marla again. She confirms he is Tyler, without understanding his confusion. He asks how she got the scar on her hand, which he noticed during Marla's cancer scare. She tells him, "You kissed my hand." The narrator thinks, "I've got to find Tyler," and he hangs up.


Tyler's recruits obliterate their individual traits, the better to become a nameless and loyal army. From the conversation with Marla, readers now know the narrator is Tyler. But the narrator doesn't seem to know it yet. He still wants to talk to Tyler.

The narrator reacts strongly to the bartender's knowledge of his birthmark. For the narrator, the birthmark is not a neutral fact. It's his version of the stigma of AIDS; it's also his daily reminder he is not gay, and it's his connection to a few moments in his life when some people thought he was gay. "The cancer I don't have is everywhere, now," the narrator thinks. It's unclear whether he means everyone now knows about his birthmark; he seems also to mean AIDS has spread "everywhere" in society.

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