How is masculinity represented by violence in Fight Club? Please focus on the portrayal of masculinity in the novel specifically through the use of violence.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The social setting that serves as the backdrop for Fight Club is one in which traditional notions of masculinity are being slowly eviscerated.  The social context in which the narrator lives is one where what it means to be a man is in fundamental transition.  The interpretation of this transition is where masculinity is emasculated and becoming socially "refined."  This social setting is one where men are forced to subjugate their primal instincts for a world in which men are to be domesticated and passive.

It is in this world where Fight Club takes place.   “Who you are at fight club was not who you are in the real world" is the sentiment within the setting. The novel shows masculinity as dependent upon the expression of violence. Violence is a means of achieving a primal condition in which men are able to be in touch with who they are and their own true identity.  The portrayal of masculinity in the novel is one where violence reveals a true sense of self: "You weren't alive anywhere like you were alive here."  Violence is the means by which men "handle" things.  In contrast to the social setting that perceives men in a diminished capacity, violence is a means of affirming and resurrecting one's masculinity.  

Violence is the vehicle towards which this identity is understood. It is the reason why external constructs such as "winning" or "losing" are moot. Violence is shown to be a part of a "truer" notion of masculinity.  It is a means through which men can be closer to a traditionalist intent.  Violence is the means to alleviate a condition of men who have been "raised by women." Violence is how masculinity is asserted.