Fight Club | Study Guide

Chuck Palahniuk

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Fight Club | Chapter 7 | Summary



One morning in the house he shares with Tyler, the narrator finds a used condom floating in the toilet. The narrator wonders what sperm think in such a situation: "This is the vaginal vault?" The narrator dreamed all night he was "humping" Marla. Tyler was with Marla; the condom is the first sign of the household's new situation.

The house is old and decrepit: "The shingles on the roof blister, buckle, curl." The rain gets in; the nails in the floorboards and walls "inch and rust." The house is full of stacks of old magazines: Reader's Digest and National Geographic. The narrator recalls an old Reader's Digest series about human organs; each was titled "I Am Joe's ..." liver or heart and so on.

The narrator had called Marla. They now have a support group sharing arrangement; if the narrator wants to go, he calls her to see if she's not going: "Melanoma was last night, and I felt a little down."

On the phone Marla tells the narrator she had taken drugs and was suicidal, but then she said it wasn't a "for-real suicide." The narrator declines to go see Marla; he goes to his support group. Marla then calls a second time, and Tyler answers; he goes to her hotel. Police come into the hotel shouting to Marla, "You have every reason to live!"

Tyler tells the narrator about having had sex with Marla the night before. The narrator is angry and jealous.


In Chapter 3 the narrator describes the transforming power of fight club. But for him the transformation doesn't seem permanent. He feels bad enough to want to go back to a support group. Later he will realize Tyler is awake while he sleeps, the true cause of his insomnia. When he finds out about Marla, the narrator is jealous, but not because he wants to be the one who's with her. Instead he sees Marla as a threat: "How could I compete for Tyler's attention."

This chapter focuses on Marla, so it's significant to start it with a comparison between a toilet and a vagina. Women are present in this novel largely as sex organs, and not appealing ones: a toilet that represents the vagina and makes the sperm feel disappointed, or a giant image of a vagina spliced into a PG movie, which makes viewers feel sad or sick later.

The narrator keeps returning to the "I am Joe's" articles. To express his anger about Tyler's hookup with Marla, he says, "I am Joe's Raging Bile Duct" and "I am Joe's Grinding Teeth." The narrator uses the literary technique called synecdoche, in which a part (grinding teeth) stands for the whole (an angry man). Synecdoche has another significance in this novel; Tyler himself is a part—a fragment, a figment—who presents himself as an entire man. Thus the body parts also offer readers a clue about Tyler's real identity. Finally, the narrator does not say "I am Joe's Grinding Teeth" to any other character; he might have thought it during the events he recounts, but it's more likely he is adding the literary technique of synecdoche afterwards, in the act of narrating. The personified body parts remind readers the narration is an artificial performance, which reminds readers this is a novel, not reality. The narrator, too, is a figment of someone's imagination; he is a part standing in for a whole.

In Chapter 6 the airport security task force guy told a joke. He asked what the difference was between a cockpit and a condom. Answer: "You can only get one prick into a condom." The joke seems random, but it pays off in this chapter. In one sense, the narrator is a like a plane; there are two different guys, or two pricks, piloting him. In another sense, the narrator and Tyler have to obey the joke's rule, only one prick in the condom: they can't be with Marla simultaneously. But the edges of Tyler's experience blur into the narrator's; he dreams of Marla all night.

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