Study Guide

Fight Club Mortality

By Chuck Palahniuk

Mortality

You don't understand any of it, and then you die. (1.13)

Our narrator wastes no time in setting a grim tone. Fight Club is a response to all those cheesy life-affirming books that get turned into movies on Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel. Fight Club is a death-affirming book.

On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone will drop to zero. (2.17)

Fun fact: the world's oldest person was allegedly 132 years old at the time of her death (source). Not so fun fact: everyone dies.

This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time. (3.47)

This makes that ticking clock during the commercial breaks of 60 Minutes seem really morbid. At what point does a person stop living and start dying?

Chloe's been crying in my arms during hug time, and now she's dead, dead in the ground, dead in an urn, mausoleum, columbarium. Oh, the proof that one day you're thinking and hauling yourself around, and the next, you're cold fertilizer, worm buffet. This is the amazing miracle of death. (4.12)

Our narrator seems elated at the news of Chloe's death. Perhaps only by being in such close proximity to actual death can he come to terms with his own inevitable end.

Prepare for death in ten, in nine, in eight seconds. Death will commence in seven, six... (4.20)

Another way our narrator copes with death is by imagining it in a very graphic, yet kind of comical way. With these kinds of morbid thoughts, it shouldn't be a surprise that he's hardly fazed by the more extreme, violent aspects of fight club and Project Mayhem.

[Marla] isn't dying. Okay in that brainy brain-food philosophy way, we're all dying, but Marla isn't dying the way Chloe was dying. (4.52)

This makes us wonder if there are different types of dying. Death is death, right? Are some forms of death given more attention and respect than others?

Marla said, she could die just as well watching television. Marla just hoped there was something worth watching. (7.32)

Marla is probably exaggerating here during her cry-for-help suicide attempt, but it raises an interesting question. We've heard of last meals, but last TV shows? We sure hope we don't die during a repeat of Jersey Shore.

"The Animal Control place is the best place to go. [...] The old animals dance and jump around for your attention because after three days, they get an overdose shot of sodium phenobarbital and then into the big pet oven." (8.52)

Marla's morbid thoughts about the brief lives and deaths of pets can also be applied to the brief lives and deaths of humans. We're born, we jump around for attention, then we die. How uplifting.

"What will you wish you'd done before you died?" (18.93)

The name of the philosophical mechanic isn't revealed in the book, but we've found out who it is: Jack Nicholson.

The amazing miracle of death, when one second you're walking and talking, and the next second, you're an object. (18.137)

Our narrator has a unique definition of miracle. This isn't the bell-ringing, angel-gets-its-wings type of miracle. This is a bleak, there-probably-are-no-angels kind of miracle. Is this kind of view pessimistic or realistic?