What is “the Most”

In the novel that you have read, what is the most?


~ by Ms. Cox on January 18, 2013.

52 Responses to “What is “the Most””

  1. Alex Lastewka
    Ms. Cox
    Friday, January 18th 2013

    The Most Powerful: In Tyler We Trust

    Tyler Durden is one of the main characters in Fight Club. I believe that he is the most powerful protagonist in the novel. He demonstrates his power because he is fierce, knowledgeable and determined. These three elements are the backbone to his power.

    A fierce leader is a powerful leader: “This is a chemical burn, and it will hurt more than you’ve ever been burned” (Palahniuk 74). This is something Tyler does to all members of Project Mayhem. To strike fear into an individual a person must be fierce and push limits/boundaries. Tyler does this action to try and put every member in the organization to hit their all time rock bottom. The burn is later a reminder to the individual of their success in Project Mayhem, gaining Tyler powerful obedience.

    Another form of Tyler’s power is his knowledge as a leader: “It’s only after you’ve lost everything, that you’re free to do anything” (Palahniuk 70). In a clever way he convinces all members that they must lose everything to gain it all. Tyler gains his followers and supporters because out of all of them he is the smartest in the organization. How he keeps his role as leader is because of his knowledge. This knowledge he possesses is more of a “street smarts”, having the ability to know how people act. He tells them that their not thier own unique snowflake, they are all space monkeys each and everyone of them. This a very smart strategy of a leader. Making them believe they are a part of something as a family will lower the chances of one of them uprising as a new leader, with new ideas, but with his cunning action that will never happen and his ideas will be the only ideas. The plans to stay powerful and knowledgeable.

    Lastly Tyler Durden is a very determined man: “Maybe self-improvement isn’t the answer. Maybe self-destruction is the answer” (Palahniuk 49). Tyler has the mentality that the only way to have a new beginning is to start all over. He is very determined to reach this expectation of a new world. Street fight to fight club to Project Mayhem; he takes the steps and precautions to execute this master plan. This makes determination a very key element in being a powerful leader.

    In conclusion, my opinion is that Tyler Durden possesses the most in the power in the novel Fight Club. Demonstrating this by being fierce, knowledgeable and determined. These three elements are what can create a very powerful leader, close to unstoppable.

  2. Tarynn Delaney
    Ms. Cox
    Friday, January 18, 2013

    The Most Insane in “Fight Club”

    There are a few characters in Chuck Palahniuk’s novel “Fight Club” who could be defined as insane. Although Marla Singer is neither mentally unstable nor an insomniac like the main character Tyler Durden, she is by far the most insane character in the book. Marla’s insanity is proven when she attends the group therapy sessions and also in her attempted suicide. The reason Marla is the most insane character is because she chooses not to escape the insanity around her, but instead surrounds herself with it.

    One of the most prominent ways in which Marla proves to be the most insane character is in the way she becomes attached to the support groups. For example, Marla attends a testicular cancer therapy group. Marla isn’t sick in any way, she isn’t dying. Her insanity is shown by her choice to attend the testicular cancer group because for one; she is a female and two; she has no type of cancer whatsoever. After one of the therapy sessions the narrator states “Marla doesn’t have testicular cancer. Marla doesn’t have tuberculosis. She isn’t dying” (Palahniuk 37). Here we see how even the narrator, who is mentally ill, understands that she is insane. The members of the therapy sessions are there for support and healing after dealing with traumatic sicknesses. The fact that Marla attends these support groups willingly and for entertainment makes us question her morals, thoughts and sanity. It takes a certain amount of insanity to find enjoyment in other peoples suffering.

    Another way in which Marla Singer proves she is the most insane character in “Fight Club” is in her attempt to commit suicide. Although there are sane individuals who attempt suicide, there are normally one or many significant occurrences that lead up to the suicide attempt. For Marla there were little to no significant reasons as to why she wanted to commit suicide. Marla’s insanity is displayed dramatically when Tyler rescues her from her apartment. While he drags her from the building (in hopes of escaping the police that had been called), Marla shouts “The girl who lives in 8G used to be a lovely charming girl, but the girl is a monster bitch monster. The girl is infectious human waste, and she’s afraid to commit to the wrong thing, so she won’t commit to anything” (Palahniuk 61). The irony here is that when Marla finally decides to commit to something (her suicide) she fails. Marla can be defined as the most insane character for attempting suicide without a true reason. A courageous individual would face the things in life before turning to suicide.

    In conclusion the most insane character in the novel “Fight Club” is easily Marla Singer. Throughout the novel we see her insanity when she attends the group therapy sessions and also when she attempts suicide. These actions prove her insanity because instead of escaping the insanity around her, she surrounds herself with it. In completion to the quotation provided by Samuel Beckett “What I suddenly saw then was… clear to me at last that the dark I have always struggled to keep under is in reality my most insanity”. This quotation applies perfectly to Marla Singer as she is the most insane character in “Fight Club”.

  3. Hana’s Darkness and the Significant Influence it has on her Life
    By: Julia St.Hilaire

    Hana, the protagonist in Michael Ondaatje’s novel The English Patient, frequently has to withstand tragedy and death in her life. These experiences shape her actions and create “the dark” that Samuel Beckett refers to in his play. The darkness that Hana is always struggling to keep under is in reality the most influential aspect of her life.
    When Hana gives up everything to care for a patient she barely knows, Ondaatje gives little away to the reasoning behind her drastic decision. Throughout the book, the author slowly reveals the darkness that Hana is struggling with. In a letter to her stepmother, Hana writes that her late father “was a burned man and I was a nurse and I could have nursed him . . . I could have saved him or at least been with him till the end,” (Ondaatje 296). The death of Hana’s father greatly affects Hana and influences her to withdraw herself. Earlier on in the novel, Hana explains, “an official walked down the space between a hundred beds and gave her a letter that told her of the death of her father . . . it was some time after that she had come across the English Patient – someone who looked like a burned animal, taut and dark,” (Ondaatje 41). Hana takes a special interest in the English Patient because his burns remind her of her father, and decides to desert her life to nurse him. Hana refuses to leave the Villa with the other nurses, endangers herself and explains that, “this is not desertion. I will stay here,” (Ondaatje 41). Not only is there a lack of food and water, but the Villa is also armed with active mines. Hana’s dangerous and irrational decision demonstrates the influence her father’s death, or her “darkness”, has on her life. Later in the novel, Caravaggio asks Hana why she adores the English Patient, and she replies, “I love him . . . he is a saint,” (Ondaatje 45). As a result, Caravaggio says, “you don’t love him, you adore him,” (Ondaatje 45). This represents the relationship that Hana and the English patient have, which is more of a father daughter relationship than a romantic one. Hana is trying to compensate for her father’s death by caring for the English Patient, and this demonstrates how much influence “the dark” has on her.
    Hana’s darkness, that she is always struggling to keep under, is in reality the most influential element of her life. The death of her father created a dark hole in Hana that she attempts to fill by nursing the English Patient. The sacrifices Hana makes for the English Patient, a stranger who has no chance of living, demonstrates the significant influence her father’s death had on her choices. Ondaatje develops the theme of healing, and establishes the importance of truly understanding others instead of only knowing the surface of things. He shows the reader how the experiences in a person’s life mold and shape them into the person they are and how these experiences stay with a person for their entire life.

  4. Nick Goyette
    Memories are really important in life. They remind us all the great moments we had with our friends and family or the less funny moments that creates us and that make us understand the life truths. But sometimes, memory can bring back dark moments, moments that we want to forget but that we can’t erases. In Ondaatje’s The English Patient, memory is the object of the quest for identity, a quest lead by the characters to understand who is the English patient and what had lead him where he is now. I personally think that there are two main reasons why the English patient had decided to forget who he is, voluntarily or not.
    The first reason why I think the English patient forgot who he was is that he decided to dedicate himself to the desert. Before he crashed, the English patient was a great desert explorer named Almasy who dedicated his life to the research of the last oasis of Zerzura. He became to know the Bedouin tribes more than his own people and start to hate the idea of nationality and reject who he was socially. His exact words are “Gradually we became nationless. I came to hate nations. We are deformed by nation-states. Madox died because of nations.”(Ondaatje 138) For me, this quotation mean that Almasy decided to reject who he was and the feelings he can had so he can focus on what really matter to him, the lost Zerzura. Also when Almasy said that he was deformed by nation-states I think he meant that the nations at the time tried to create a society that he didn’t feel like he fit in.
    The other reason why I think the English patient don’t remember who he was is that his broken love destroyed what was left of his feelings. The fact that he lost the only person he know he could really love in is life is the major reason why he totally forgot who he was after he crashed with his plane. His relation with Katharine was complicated but he loved her like he could not love anyone else. She was really important for him, and she made him change who he was. “He has been disassembled by her. And if she has brought him to this, what has he brought her to?”(Ondaatje 155).Katharine changed the English patient but she never took his love of the desert out of him. Also, I personally think that he changed her more than she changed him. She started loving the desert to please him and she made her husband spent more time in the desert that he probably want to.
    The fact that the English had lost his memory is explainable by the fact that he decided by himself to lose his nationality, and give his life to the desert. Also the fact that he is in big part responsible of the death of the only woman he could possibly love on earth made him erase his identity from his mind. He still knows everything that happened to him but he is detached from it because his memory forgot who he was.

  5. Siva Tharmabala
    I believe Kirpal Singh from English Patient would complete this quotation “ What I suddenly saw then was…clear to me at last that the dark I have always struggled to keep under is in reality my most…”(Beckett). Kip’s “the most” and “the dark” would be his nationality and identity. In the English Patient, Kip is caught between the English world he experiences while defusing bombs for the English army, and his Indian nationality. When Hana naively described Kip as the “brownness of a rock, the brownness of a muddy storm-fed river” (Ondaatje 105) it made him regrettably realize that he “remained a foreigner, the Sikh” (Ondaatje 105). On the other hand Kip goes to great lengths to avoid seeing himself. Ondaatje tells us that Kip “himself has no mirrors” (Ondaatje 219). I think Kip does not want to see himself in a mirror and have to face the fact that he is Indian and not English. Furthermore While working for Lord Suffolk I believe Kip started to buy into the English culture. Working for Lord Suffolk was the only time that Kip felt a part of the army and in a way he felt he was English. Kip described his friendship with Lord Suffolk as something “he would never forget” (Ondaatje 187). Kip’s identity is his “dark” that he struggles to keep under with because he cannot decide if he prefers being Indian or if he prefers the English way of life. Later on in the English Patient Kip begins to come to terms with his “the dark” and his nationality becomes his “the most.” After the events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the resentment Kip feels for the English surfaces. Kip starts to believe in his older brother’s belief about the English which was to “Never trust Europeans…Never shake hands with them” (Ondaatje 284). At the beginning of the book, Kip ignored his brothers words and works for the English army. However when the bomb was dropped Kip changes his beliefs to reflect his brothers. The bombing causes Kip to be furious because he believed the bombing would not have happened if the target consisted of white people. Kip even say’s “When you start bombing the brown races of the world, you’re an Englishman” (Ondaatje 286). Kip starts to understand his feelings for the English culture and is able accept his own nationality. I believe Kip feels that his time was wasted being a sapper for the English army and that he would rather be Indian than English. This is shown when he gets onto his Triumph and leaves Hana. Moreover since he was the second son, he was supposed to become a doctor and not a sapper. This was an old tradition in his family. Later on in the book Kip accepts this tradition as part of his nationality by becoming a doctor. His acceptance of his Indian nationality after the events of Nagasaki is how Kip realizes his “dark” or nationality is in reality his “most.”

  6. Rebecca Peters
    Ms. Cox
    January 18th 2013
    Words of a Singer
    The characters in Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club live lives that are as different as they are similar, each individually possessing what Samuel Beckett refers to as a prominent dark. This dark, can be a number of things, depending on the individual, that the character has tried to hide or suppress. This essay however will focus on what the characters, namely Marla Singer, possess in abundance and shamelessly display for the world to see. Marla Singer is what is considered to be most capable of acting out her words throughout the novel. This capability is displayed by her recognition and acceptance of her life, as well as her attempt of accidentally purposefully committing suicide.
    Marla essentially embodies the narrator’ realisation that “maybe self-destruction is the answer” (Palahniuk 49), and Tyler’s stress on the concept that “’it’s only after you’ve lost everything,’ Tyler says, ‘that you’re free to do anything’” (Palahniuk 70). She is self-destructive, reckless, and lives in a perpetual state of rock bottom. Contrary to the narrator, Marla accepts her fate and stays true to herself. She demonstrates this acceptance when she states, “I embrace my own festering diseased corruption” (Palahniuk 65). Marla’s realist attitude and mannerisms further support the aforementioned notion, as she lives by her own rules and does not create pipe dreams in which she has no chance in achieving. Marla doesn’t say anything she doesn’t mean, and never says she’ll do something she knowingly has no intention in doing.
    Marla Singer lives by the philosophy that essentially death is simply prolonged by living. She seems to surround herself with death as a way to cope with the fact that she isn’t dying herself. Interestingly enough, it seems as though Marla doesn’t want to die just as much as she does want to. The aforementioned concept can be further developed in her accidental, purpose-driven suicide attempt. When the police arrive at Marla’s apartment in hopes of saving her, the scene unfolds as such:
    Marla shouts to the police that the girl who lives in 8G used to be a lovely charming girl, but the girl is a monster bitch monster. The girl is infectious human waste, and she’s confused and afraid to commit to the wrong thing so she won’t commit to anything (Palahniuk 61)
    Marla’s suicide attempt, accompanied by her powerful statement, perfectly compliments her ability to act out her words. She expresses her reluctance to commit to something in fear of committing to the wrong thing, not only in her explanation to the police, but in her suicide itself. In essence, she does not commit to suicide, but rather renders herself into a state where she is able to go in either the direction of life or the direction of death. Either way, she is left with a choice.
    In many ways, Marla Singer marches to the beat of her own drum. She lives her life according her personal morals and philosophies, never deviating from her true self. She holds true to her words and is fully capable of acting them out, unlike other characters in the novel. Fight Club displays the narrator’s inability to independently translate his thoughts as well as his words into reality. It is because of this inability that the narrator must live through Tyler. Although it seems as though Tyler is unique and original, it can be argued that he is the narrator’s way of embodying Marla. Tyler serves as a way to compensate for all that the narrator lacks but wishes he had, primarily the ability to act out his words. The underlying significance of words in the novel is one that is made evident as the narrator frequently states, “Tyler’s words coming out of my mouth” (Palahniuk 98). What is left to question is whether these all too important words belong solely to Tyler Durden, or if they should be credited to the one and only, Marla Singer.

  7. Fight Club: Courage Keeps You Standing
    “Courage is resistance of fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” -Mark Twain

    The book fight club is essentially a love story of the narrator, also known as Tyler Durden, who falls in love with Marla Singer. Marla is a unique character who lives a postmodern life of chaos. Using support groups as a way to feel, Marla is a lot similar to the Narrator in the fact that she needs sympathy felt for her because she doesn’t have strong family figures in her life. Without these figures, Marla has learned to live a life of independence and does just enough to get by. Jobless and goalless, the reader learns that Marla does not value her life very much, and in doing so becomes the most courageous character in the novel.
    Marla is known for her fake suicide attempts that are really just cries for help. It seems as though Marla does most of the things she does just to keep her life interesting, not out of actual desire: “The girl is infectious waste, and she’s confused and afraid to commit to the wrong thing so she wont commit to anything” (Palahniuk 61). Marla talks about herself as though she is worthless. She knows that the world is a big, dark place out there, and would rather live to the best of her ability then live in worry: “What you have to know is that Marla is alive. Marla’s philosophy on life, she told me, is that she can die at any moment. The tragedy is that she doesn’t” (Palahniuk 108). Marla’s courage shines through as she finds a lump on her breast but avoids going to the hospital because she’d rather not know her future. Her fate is her fate and she is courageous enough to live each day not knowing.
    Throughout the novel the reader notices the undeniable attraction between the Narrator and Marla. Marla is aware of the Narrator’s faults, including his split personality named Tyler, but she overlooks these faults because she feels that she can help him. Marla’s life is risked many times in order to do what is best for the Narrator, but her love is shown as she stands on top of a building that is about to blow up to tell him he is worth more then this; “‘It’s not love or anything,’ Marla shouts, ‘but I think I like you, too’” (Palahniuk 205). Marla has to be mad in order to still want to be in someone’s life that has committed so many crimes, but in the end she stands by his side waiting for him; “Marla’s still on Earth, and she writes to me. Some day she says they’ll bring me back” (Palahniuk 207). Courage is present as Marla fights for “Tyler”, the man she has grown to love. “Marla likes Tyler. ‘No, I like you,’ Marla shouts. ‘I know the difference’” (Palahniuk 205). It takes courage to still love the Narrator after he has endangered Marla as much as he has.
    Marla Singer is a unique character who lives a very different lifestyle. When she meets Tyler at the support group for the first time, the pair both don’t like or trust each other but as the novel progresses an unbreakable bond is built. By the end of the novel confessions of love have been made, hearts have been broken and courage has been built. Marla Singer is by far the most courageous character in Fight Club because of all she goes through with the narrator and her edgy lifestyle of no fear.
    Christine Combe

  8. Christopher Montreuil

    In The English Patient there is a lot of madness. Geoffrey Clifton tried to commit a murder suicide to kill Almasy, Katharine and himself. Clifton was flying his plane with Katharine as a passenger on their way to Almasy. He was driven mad because he discovered his wife and Almasy were having an affair last time they were in the desert. Carvagio is driven mad because of his addiction to morphine; he keeps stealing morphine from Hana for his own personal use. Kip is driven mad because the atomic bombs that were dropped by the Americans yet he blames the British and contemplates killing the English patient because of his anger. This is no comparison to Hana who is the most mad in the novel. Hana is driven mad because of several different elements throughout the novel. She starts to show symptoms of becoming mad in her first couple days as a nurse in the army. Like many nurses in the army she is surrounded by death. Anyone that she becomes emotionally attached to shortly dies after she first meets them; this is called shell-shock. During this time she received a letter informing her of her fathers death. The doctors that were working with Hana even said: “She was in rough shape herself” (Ondaatje 28). This collective bombardment of death that she is surrounded by is what starts driving her mad. She starts to become unstable; she starts to contemplate the fact that she may be cursed. The fact that she thinks that she is cursed is a early sign that she is becoming mad. She even confesses that she started becoming mad when she said: “I was a little crazy” (Ondaatje 82). Once the war ends, she decides to stay in a small Italian villa near Florence with the English Patient; even though the rest of the doctors and nurses are moving away to a safer place. She is reluctant to care about the fact that there are still several unexploded bombs and mines everywhere inside the villa. Several of the doctors warned her about the dangers yet she was still mad enough to stay. She gives up a life of staying in a safe place and having meals made for her to stay in an abandoned villa alone with a patient that she barely knows. She only has the essential things in life in order for her and the English patient to survive. Anyone who would give up that sense of security and safety must be mad. The strongest indication that she is mad is when she is says that she is not afraid of death. When Kip was having difficulty disarming a bomb near the villa, Hana heard him and went to help. No matter how much Kip told her to go back she never listened. She stayed to help because she is not afraid of death. She even admitted to Kip after the bomb was disarmed: “I thought I was going to die. I wanted to die” (Ondaatje 103). When she becomes careless about her own death is when we know unquestionably that she is the maddest character of the novel. We see throughout the entire novel that she the most unstable of all the characters; she even admits that she knows that she is not all there. This shows the readers just how mad she has truly become.

  9. Eternal Damnation

    “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of [them].”
    – James 2:10

    Who is the most damned character in The English Patient? A question that is easily answered. Who is the thief? Who is an assassin? Who covets Hana? Carvaggio is the only character that is consistently deceptive in the novel, and therefore the one who is damned. As stated above, whoever breaks one of the ten commandments set forth by God, is guilty of breaking all of them.”Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19).
    Carvaggio shows that he is a thief in many instances throughout the novel. Hana talks about Carvaggio being a thief in Toronto a few times, but the first time the viewer sees him in action is when he tries to pull of his naked caper. Carvaggio is even shown to be an assassin this quotation; “He doesn’t know whether to move, whether she will whisper to the man fucking her about the other person in the room. A naked thief” (Ondaatje 37). Ondaatje spells it out plain and simple that Carvaggio is a thief, and an assassin. Thus, Carvaggio breaks one of the ten commandments, damning himself.
    According to the highest law in the land, people should not covet their neighbour. This can be interpreted as not lusting after things your neighbour or friend has, for example their wife or significant other. In The English Patient the reader knows that Carvaggio loves Hana; they just do not know how he loves Hana. Carvaggio was Hana’s father’s friend, and knew her as a young girl. However, it starts to seem like Carvaggio loves Hana in a more intimate way. Hana says, “Don’t touch me if you’re going to try and fuck me” (Ondaatje 44). Even Hana understands that Carvaggio loves her in a n intimate way, even though he fights the feeling. Hana is beholden to Kip, and Kip to Hana, therefore Carvaggio is breaking the cardinal laws.
    Hana also loves the English patient. She says, “I love him” (Ondaatje 45). When Carvaggio tells Hana that he thinks the English patient is Almasy she is naturally sceptical. Carvaggio tells Hana that he will feed the English patient a mixture of morphine and alcohol to get him talking. This is another example of Carvaggio coveting Hana. “He’s dying. I think you have the spy-helper Almasy upstairs” (Ondaatje 164). Carvaggio is obsessed with the idea that the English patient is not really the English patient, he will do anything to stop Hana from loving him. Carvaggio covets Hana from the English patient and Kip, but unfortunately for him is never successful.
    Carvaggio breaks more than one of the ten commandments, and according to the book of James, if anyone breaks one commandment of ten, they break all of them and are therefore are condemned. Carvaggio cements his own damnation through the violation of the supposed highest law.

  10. In Samuel Beckett’s play, Krapp’s Last Tape, Krapp identifies himself with the light. He takes refuge from the darkness in the light of the lamp above his desk. Krapp revels in the light and the sense of being it gives him –so much so that he walks away from it and into the darkness just so that he may have the joy of returning to it and, in turn, what he believes defines himself. In a tape of himself, a 39 year old Krapp articulates his feelings toward the light: “the new light above my table is a great improvement. With all this darkness round me I feel less alone … I love to get up and move about in [the darkness], then back here to … me. [Pause.] Krapp” (Beckett 5). The light indicates the location of the tape recordings of himself and by extension, him, and it is for this reason that Krapp enjoys it so much. However, he later comes to a revelation about himself and the darkness that surrounds him; Krapp recognizes that he is uncomfortable with his former self that has been immortalized by the tape recordings he has created. He ignores and skips past much of what he previously took pleasure in. Though he avoids the darkness in lieu of the light, he comes to the realization the darkness is a part of who he has become and it aids him in avoiding what he once was. He articulates that it was “clear to me at last that the dark I have always struggled to keep under is in reality my most¬¬¬¬¬–” (Beckett 8-9). It is here that Krapp cuts off the tape, uninterested –or in denial- of the revelation of his 39 year old self. In Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett, the reader is informed that Beckett himself finished the quotation with ‘my most precious ally’. Therefore, the quotation in its entirety reads thusly: “[it was] clear to me at last that the dark I have always struggled to keep under is in reality my most¬ precious ally” (Knowlson 319). The light brings Krapp back to his former self (found in the form of the tape recordings), but he’s not trying to identify with his younger self. Instead, he listens as if he is a wholly separate entity. He fast-forwards past some parts that were clearly important to his previous self, showing that he has changed. The darkness has become Krapp’s ally as it helps him to hide from whom he once was –the ‘young whelp’ with many aspirations, resolutions, and hopes for the future. Though he once attempted to avoid the dark, opting for the light, it can be seen that the darkness is his ally in that it helps him to avoid the man he once was ¬–the man he secretly ashamed to admit that he no longer is.
    The same can be said of Kip in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, if not in such a literal sense. There is quite a bit of light and dark imagery present which adds to the theme of hiding from the truth which is apparent throughout the novel. The most conspicuous contrast between light and dark imager can be found in the characters of Kip and Hannah, Hannah being the former, and Kip the latter. The aforementioned quotation by Samuel Beckett concerning Krapp’s ally =which comes in the form darkness– relates to Kip as well. It is only later on in his life that Krapp comes to the realization that the darkness is a part of him. Kip, realizes this from the beginning for his darkness comes in the form of his skin, and he is constantly to be found attempting to lose this aspect of himself. He submerges himself in Western culture in an ultimately futile attempt to throw off his Indian heritage. He constantly listens to Western music, and even involves himself in a war between Western nations –namely the Second World War. It was for his brother to go into the military, but he chose to leave his family behind, abandoning tradition to fight a Western war. His dark skin is a visual representation of his heritage, and he is trying to escape it, without quite realizing that it is his ‘precious ally’. Kip’s dark skin is constantly referred to as the aspect of him that Hannah adores the most; she enticed, and highly fascinated by it. It is the source of the initial physical attraction that she feels toward him, and without it, it is difficult to say whether their relationship –such as it was– would have existed. In The English Patient, Ondaatje writes, “She likes to lay her face against the upper reaches of his arm, that dark brown river, and to wake submerged within it, against the pulse of an unseen vein in his flesh beside her” (Ondaatje 125). She revels in the colour of his skin; it is something that he loves about her, and in this way, the darkness that Kip is trying to hide serves him well. It is his most precious ally. Kip’s dark skin also enables him to effectively evade the spotlight. Kip likes being “the anonymous member of another race, a part of the invisible world” (Ondaatje 196). It is evident that “he did not like [the attention]. He was accustomed to his invisibility” (Ondaatje 196). Upon the death of Lord Suffolk, Kip was offered the chance to take his place at the head of his field, but he was unwilling because he liked working behind the scenes. Of Kip The English Patient says, he knew he was capable of having wires attached to him that influenced all around him who did not have his specific talent. A few months later he had escaped to Italy” (Ondaatje 197). Though he was talented, in Italy he was able to remain almost invisible to the other sappers; due to the dark colour of his skin, Kip was not quite regarded the equal of the others and was thus ignored in this place where he was not recognized. Even in England where he was well known for his skills, the other soldiers ignored, and Kip appreciates the anonymity of being dark-skinned. For all the aspects of Western culture that Kip embraces and the darkness he rejects, it aids him. In the end, Kip comes to embrace the dark and his heritage; he returns to India and settles himself back within the boundaries of the social norm that he so long rejected. The prominent theme of truth –or lack thereof– correlates directly with the light and dark imagery contained in the novel for, just as all of the other principle characters of the novel are hiding from the truth, this holds true for Kip as well, and just as Krapp attempted to hide from his darkness, he comes to embrace it, as did Kip at the end of the novel.

    Beckett, Samuel. Krapp’s Last Tape and Other Dramatic Pieces. 3rd ed. New York: Grove Press, 1958. 3-12. Print.
    Knowlson, James. Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett. 1st ed. 2. New York: Grove Press, 1996. 319. Print.
    Ondaatje, Michael. The English Patient. 1st ed. . Toronto: Vintage Books, 1992. Print.

  11. Ian McEwans Atonement is a novel about novel written by one of the book’s main characters. The author of the novel within Atonement is Briony Tallis. She constructs a novel herself based loosely on real life events and characters. One of the characters she builds upon and constructs is Robbie Turner. Her focus on Robbie as a characters leads to believe that Robbie Turner is the most constructed character.
    The novel is split into three sections, with Robbie appearing in all three sections. The bulk of the characters, and the event that shatters Robbie’s life, are all in Part One. Part One is a construction of all the main characters, not just Robbie. Part Two is a complete and utter construction of Robbie’s life during World War II. Briony tells Robbie’s story through sets of letters that have been delivered between the two lovers, Cecelia and Robbie. Later in the novel, we also discover part two is helped to be constructed by letters from Nettle; one of Robbie’s acquaintances during the evacuation of Dunkirk. We know Briony was reading the letters between Cecelia and Robbie because of their importance (the letters) in Part Two:
    “It’s our secret,” she called out, in front of them all, just before the slam of
    the door.
    “I won’t say a word,” he said, though Nettle’s head had long disappeared
    from his view. “Wake me before seven. I promise, you won’t hear another
    word from me.” (McEwan 250)
    The beginning of the quotation connects to a letter Robbie would have had from Cecelia. Briony has taken Robbies and Cecilia’s letters and constructed her idea of how Robbie would have endured the war. She entirely constructed his thoughts, actions, and perceptions. The second part of the quotation above goes further to support my next quotation. Near the end of the novel, Briony reveals to the enlightened readers of Atonement that the novel is in fact all a construction of her mind. During the third part, Robbie is reunited with Cecilia and their love is fulfilled for each other. This is the kind of happy endings many people indulge themselves with. Yet in 1999, Briony reveals to the readers her construction of the novel: “But now I can no longer think what purpose would be served if, say, I tried to persuade my reader, by direct or indirect means, that Robbie Turner died of septicemia at Bray Dunes on 1 June 1940” (McEwan 350). This supports the idea that Robbie Turner is indeed the most constructed character in the novel. By revealing that Robbie had actually died on the continent instead of travelling home and being reunited with Cecelia proves that during the entire duration of part three Robbie is constructed 100%. There are no letters to base this period of off, no first person encounters with Mr. Turner. Briony creates the end half of Atonement completely so that Robbie can have his happy ending. This also leads up so to believe at the end of the first quotation Robbie Turner dies. All other mentions of him therefor have to be constructed.
    When Briony constructs Robbies emotions and ideas in Part One; his actions, ideas, and perceptions in Part Two; and his life entirely in Part Three; it shows her focus on Robbie as her character in the novel. The amount of construction that is used to include Robbie in Atonement leaves us to question what is real? How can we believe anything the author is writing if most of it could be a construction or not. The level of doubt we encounter when sitting down and thinking about Robbie Turner in the novel reveals to us that Robbie is the most constructed character in the novel. – Joseph LeBlanc

  12. To Refuse to Remember Your Past is to Refuse to Know Yourself

    In Samuel Beckett’s play Krapp’s Last Tape, the unfinished quotation, “What I suddenly saw then was. . . clear to me at last that the dark I have always struggled to keep under is in reality my most. . .” (Beckett), ends the show without allowing the audience any closure as to what the character coins as his “most”. Using this quotation in relation to the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan, one can argue that to finish the statement for the main character Briony it would read, “my most prominent memory.” Throughout the novel Atonement, memory plays a key role as novelist Briony Tallis cleverly crafts an alternate universe from her past, one in which she makes an effort to right the wrongs she has committed in relation to her sister and her sisters lover. Despite the efforts of the now seventy-seven year old Briony to avoid the dark secrets of her past and the undying contempt within which she holds herself, the narration of the novel written by Briony clearly indicates that she has never been able to properly suppress these emotions. In a scene detailing Briony’s first encounter with her sister Cecilia after the lie that tore them apart, Briony’s fictionalized version of Cecilia states, “Don’t worry about that. . . Don’t worry. . . I won’t ever forgive you” (McEwan 337). While at the time of reading this passage it appears to the audience that Cecilia has actually said this, one later realizes that it is in fact Briony creating a falsified dialogue between herself and her sister as Cecilia dies in a bomb explosion before Briony is able to express remorse. This quotation demonstrates that although Briony writes a novel in which she sheds a more positive light on herself, creating a world where she at least made attempts to rectify the situation between herself and her sister, the memory of her darkest mistake never truly leaves her; there is no way for her to hide from her most prominent memory forever and there is no way to make her characters forgive her for something she could never forget nor forgive herself for. Although Briony made a child’s mistake without any inherently cruel intentions, the ramifications of her actions remain a part of her forever, unable to be absolved because, as she said, “ How can a novelist achieve atonement when, with her absolute power of deciding outcomes, she is also God? There is no one, no entity or higher form that she can appeal to, or be reconciled with, that can forgive her” (McEwan 371); with her sister and Robbie dead, the only person who can grant Briony atonement is herself, and her memory will not allow her to do so. The novel is, in its entirety, a story about Briony who, like so many other people in both literary works and real life, tries to suppress an integral memory in her life and learns that memories, though not a tangible part of human life, are what make people who they are. Briony reiterates this inability to forgive herself in the last lines of the novel in which she states, “I gave them [Cecilia and Robert] happiness, but I was not so self-serving as to let them forgive me” (McEwan 372).When the seventy-seven year old Briony writes this part of her novel, she finally admits to herself that regardless of crafting a different past for herself, she cannot evade her memories completely; while she clearly puts a significant amount of time and effort into submerging herself into an alternate set of events, her darkest memory and shadowy past have shone through her new history, allowing the self-hatred the Briony harbours to be displayed through the facets of her immortalized versions of her sister and the man whose life she unintentionally ruined.

  13. Daniel Sheogobind
    Grit Club
    The narrator is the most courageous character in fight club. All the other characters feign superiority and knowledge, while really showing cowardice and instability through their attitude. The narrator—while he does make mistakes—is still the most courageous one in the end. This was shown by his actions in and out of fight club, both before and after he realized he was the alter ego of Tyler Durden. Once he realizes the truth, instead of using his mental instability as an excuse for his behaviour, he shows his courage by taking complete responsibility for what he has done. All the other characters involved in fight club and project mayhem are cowards—spoiled cowards. Tyler Durden is a spoiled coward, Big Bob is a spoiled coward—all the space monkeys are spoiled cowards. In their eyes, “We are the middle children of history, raised by television to believe that someday we’ll be millionaires and movie stars and rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re just learning this fact” (Palahniuk 166). They’re completely wrong—they had just as much of a chance as anyone else of their generation to become a movie star, rock star, or whatever they dreamed of. Maybe just through bad luck, a lack of self-confidence or laziness, they gave up on their dreams. And they are now the courageous ones by killing humanity as we know it? No—they are cowardly. Fight club was originally a way of letting frustrations out and trying to make the members feel better about their situation, and the narrator proved his courage here. Having never been in a real fight before, he was fine coming to fight club and being beaten each time—because he was no longer scared. He had stopped being scared of fighting, of his boss, of his life. Project mayhem is a different story; the motto of the space monkeys is that because they did not get the best jobs, the best houses, this or that, and so everyone else must suffer. Project mayhem is just complete abuse of others, of innocent civilians who had nothing to do with ‘destroying’ the lives of those who joined fight club. Arrogance and cowardice was the first thing that brought the men to project mayhem, and they were what kept them inside. I don’t believe that all the space monkeys were completely fine with killing, maiming, or hurting innocent civilians—but the only to one in the book to ever speak against it was the narrator. He attempts to stop fight club and project mayhem, completely aware that he was one man against hundreds—possibly thousands. I believe what Tyler said to his union boss truly applies to the narrator: “You have too much to lose. I have nothing. You have everything” (Palahniuk 114-115). The narrator, at this point, has nothing to lose—and also nothing to gain. He knows it, but still has the courage to try and stop the monster he created. That is true courage— when you know you have nothing to gain, and the entire world is against you, but you do the right thing anyway.

  14. Megan Fleury
    Till Death We Remember

    Michael Ondaatje expresses the theme of memory in main characters lives throughout the novel, The English Patient. Jumping into different time frames, Almasy meets different people that help him in his life making an impression in his memory that are later linked together. Early in Almasy’s life he meets Katharine Clifton, the wife of Geoffrey Clifton, one of his fellow explorers. During their affair Katharine becomes part of his deep memory. He states, “This is the story of how I fell in love with a woman, who read me a specific story from Herodotus. I heard the words she spoke across the fire, never looking up, even when she teased her husband” (Ondaatje 233). Katharine lasts as a memory through Almasy’s plane crash, in his book, till his dying thought. Hana, the English Patients (EP) nurse, uses EP as a replacement for her father. Hana’s father burned to death while she was in the war and she never forgave herself for not being there. When the EP came into her life she feels redemption to help him as if he were her father: “Patrick died in a dove-cot in France . . . Patrick died in a comforting place” (Ondaatje 293). That is how Hana looks at her father’s death. She wants that for the EP, for him to die in a comforting place. Caravaggio is also deeply affected by his memory. He searches for a man that was the cause of him losing his thumbs, the tools that assisted him in his job. The man he searches for ends up being the EP. When he finds him he searches the EP’s memory to find evidence that leads to Caravaggio’s torture story: “Each swallow of morphine by the body opens a further door, or he leaps back to the cave paintings or to a buried plane or lingers once more with the women beside him under a fan, her cheek against his stomach” (Ondaatje 247). This leads to their stories intertwining leading them to remember more about their past, connecting the missing dots in the EP’s memory. Kip, the bomb diffuser, remembers his life being difficult at home and in the war. He has memory of his brother being resentful towards him serving in the British army, helping the West. When Kip forms a relationship with Hana, she holds him in her arms, and he is reminded of the protected feeling he had when he was held by his mother: “She has pulled him out of the vortex of the problem” (Ondaatje 202). All of these main characters get the opportunity to tell their story and express their true feelings in the novel. Each of them, living in the villa, discovers the threads that exist between each other. The English Patient realizes how much the desert retracted parts from his memory when he was referred to as Almasy. EP lost his body when it burned in the plane crash, along with that he lost his story and life’s journey. As Hana nursed him, read his book to him and Caravaggio urges him, he connects the missing pieces of the memory that forms his character.

  15. Daniela Riganelli
    Briony’s Creative Imagination

    In the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan, Briony is the character who possesses the greatest capacity for “creative imagination.” Briony has trouble with the truth and tends to fill in the blanks when it comes to situations that she does not understand. She imaginatively rewrites the fountain scene in which her big sister Cecilia and the cleaning lady’s son Robbie are arguing. Briony witnesses this scene through her bedroom window and misinterprets it as Robbie dominating Cee. A series of events are triggered because of Briony’s creative imagination which changes the course of Robbie and Cee’s lives for the worse. Briony does not grasp the moral of truth.
    “There did not have to be a moral. She need only show separate minds, as alive as her own, struggling with the idea that other minds were equally alive. It wasn’t only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you. And only in a story could you enter these different minds and show how they had an equal value. That was the only moral a story need have.” (Ian McEwan)
    Briony does not ruin Robbie and Cee’s lives out of wickedness or scheming. In her own mind she was protecting her sister from being dominated by Robbie. Briony did not understand that Cecilia and Robbie were in love and therefore turned witnessed situations between the two lovers into imaginative stories of attack and rape. Near the end of the novel the reader finds out that the story was written by Briony herself in order to retell the past and atone for the lives that she ruined. Briony imaginatively rewrites Robbie and Cecelia’s happy ending because they did not live long enough to see it. While reading the lovers final scene together, the reader doesn’t find out until the end of the novel that the scene didn’t actually happen. It’s made up and written by Briony in her novel titled “Two Figures by the Fountain”
    “A story was a form of telepathy. By means of inking symbols onto a page, she was able to send thoughts and feelings from her mind to her reader’s. It was a magical process, so commonplace that no one stopped to wonder at it.” (Ian McEwan)
    Briony’s creative imagination came up with the scene in order to make her story more appealing to the audience and to prove to the audience that she had remorse for the lies she unintentionally created. Also Briony needed to earn some peace of mind; to make herself believe that she gave the lives that she ruined a happy ending in some way.
    “It is only in this last version that my lovers end well, standing side by side on a South London pavement as I walk away. All the preceding drafts were pitiless. But now I can no longer think what purpose would be served if, say, I tried to persuade my reader, by direct or indirect means, that Robbie Turner died of septicemia at Bray Dunes on 1 June 1940, or that Cecilia was killed in September of the same year…” (Ian McEwan)

  16. Laura Hidvary
    Ms Cox
    ENG 4U1-04
    January 18 2013

    Complexity… Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

    The complexity of a protagonist can make a novel more appealing as the reader is intrigued to discover more about the character. Briony, the protagonist in Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement, is the most complex character in the novel due to her self-absorbed, assuming, and transformed character.
    During the first part of the novel it is Lola Quincey who is painted as the attention seeking, self-absorbed teenage girl. After analyzing how Briony interacts with others through her unique thoughts, stories, and plays, the reader understands that it is actually Briony who is the attention seeking and self-absorbed character. Although at first it appears as if Briony loves to write because of her active imagination and passion for creativity it is soon revealed that she loves the attention others give to her because of her plays and stories, “this was precisely why she loved plays, or hers at least; everyone would adore her” (McEwan 11). Briony seems to be a quiet, satisfied little girl who likes to be left alone; however, it becomes clear that she takes joy in attention given to her by others, specifically through her plays. This seemingly hidden aspect of her character makes her complex in the sense that there are so many different ways in which she portrays herself to others throughout the novel.
    Another characteristic of Briony that contributes to her complexity is her assuming personality. After seeing the fountain scene between Cecilia and Robbie, reading Robbie’s letter, and walking into the library during their intimate scene Briony’s immaturity and imagination takes over as she manipulates her thoughts. Aside from Briony’s obvious misunderstanding of adult motives and sexual feelings it is unclear to the reader as to why Briony suddenly thinks Robbie is the “incarnation of evil” (McEwan 108). Throughout her whole life Robbie has been there, showing kindness and love, even saving her once: “There was no choice – he stepped into the water, shoes, jacket, and all. Almost immediately he found her arm, got his hand under her shoulder and heaved her up” (McEwan 217). As Briony changes her mind so frequently about Robbie who she once claimed to love: “I love you” (McEwan 217) she demonstrates her complexity again by puzzling the reader with her sudden strong emotions.
    Throughout the novel as Briony grows older and continues to display different characteristics as she matures, which all attest to her being the most complex character in the novel, it is the transformation of her character that truly confirms her complexity. As Briony grows up and becomes more mature, she realizes the mistakes she made as a child and desires to make amends. Instead of being the judge herself, of condemning others because of what she thinks they have done, she feels guilty of the crime she now realizes she has committed as others judge her because of her actions as a child. As she concludes in Part 4, “I like to think that it isn’t weakness or evasion, but a final act of kindness, a stand against oblivion and despair, to let my lovers live and unite them at the end. I gave them happiness, but I was not so self-serving as to let them forgive me” (McEwan 351). Briony shows her understanding of the truth, thus provoking her to seek justice for Robbie, love for Cecilia, and forgiveness for herself in the story she wrote.
    Hence Briony, the protagonist in Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement, is the most complex character in the novel as she is a self-absorbed, assuming, and transformed character. It is while writing this novel in which she displays childishness and maturity, ignorance and understanding, and falsity and truthfulness that Briony tries to achieve atonement, an obvious theme in the novel. The complexity of her character aids her in finding this forgiveness as she transforms from a child to a woman as the novel progresses.

  17. Clare Johnson
    The character that misreads situations the most is Briony. In Atonement there are many scenes in which Briony will misread the situation, such as during the fountain scene: “Such was Briony’s last thought before she accepted that she did not understand, and that she must simply watch. . .she had access across the years to adult behavior.” (37). Briony misreads this situation between Robbie and her sister Cecilia in multiple situations. Her misreading of the situation is because Briony is young. She is only thirteen years old and is witnessing an adult situation. This is due to her lack of knowledge about sexuality and relationships and she does not have the experience or vocabulary to talk about it. It is not the norm for Briony to see such actions between her sister and a fellow friend, which is why she states how she must watch what she is witnessing. Briony being a young girl who misinterprets a lot of what she witnesses, is childish when she misreads the love scene in the library between Robbie and Cecilia, assuming it is rape. This is brought on when Robbie gives Briony the letter to Cecilia. Briony misinterprets the context of the letter because she doesn’t understand what it means. This leads into what she sees in the library, which is what makes her convict Robbie. “His left hand was behind her neck, gripping her hair, and with his right he held her forearm which was raised in protest, or self-defense” (116). As Briony cannot fully comprehend what is happening, she uses her imagination to fill in the gaps that she cannot grasp. Briony is taking what should be the truth and altering it with her own imagination. In Briony’s version of the scene, she rewrites the scene as if Robbie is attacking Cecilia. Robbie is using his force against her even as Cecilia tries to break free, “forearm raised in protest, or self-defense”. This quotation highlights the fact that what one sees and what one thinks they have seen, can be entirely opposing. Briony finally understands that she misreads situations when she realizes how she is becoming less of who she has been for the past 13 years. A child. She is in an unexplainable transformation: “At this stage in her life Briony inhabited an ill-defined transitional space between the nursery and adult worlds which she crossed and recrossed unpredictably” (132). Ultimately one that while inevitable, causes her to misread the situation and alter Robbie and Cecilia’s lives forever.

  18. Jayden Gesch
    ENG 4U1-03
    16, January, 2013
    The Invisible and Unavoidable Darkness
    In literature the contrast of darkness and light, immorality and morality, or reality and appearances is used over and over again. An author always creates characters that are not perfect and have flaws because it is in our nature to be that way as well. The novel then becomes more relatable and relevant because it involves trials and challenges. We tell stories that portray our darkness and weaknesses as strengths, strengths that can overcome weaknesses and darkness, and darkness that is hiding the good buried beneath a character. In Beckett’s last play Krupp’s Last Tape he writes “What I suddenly saw then was… clear to me at last that the dark I have always struggled to keep under is in reality my most…” (Beckett). In the English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, Almasy’s darkness is his forgotten past and his attempt to hide from it. Beckett’s phrase can be addressed in two different ways. In one interpretation the English Patient might conclude, “The dark I have always struggled to keep under, is in reality my most defining memory of love in my life.” In this scenario the darkness is the direct object. He might also interpret it another way saying, “The dark I have always struggled to keep under is in reality my most concreate mask hiding the insecurity and sadness in my past.” In this case the dark is the indirect object where as the English patient is the direct object. The English patient is missing part of himself because of the darkness that he hides and/or hides under.

    The English patient makes a very distasteful and immoral decision; he has an affair with his colleague’s wife. This action might have seemed worth the guilt in the beginning but in the end it caused a lot of trouble. The English Patient says, “She had been injured. In 1939. Her husband had crashed his plane. It had been planned as a suicide -murder by husband that would involve all three of us. We were not even lovers at the time. I suppose information of the affair trickled down to him somehow” (Ondaatje 171). Almasy buries the truth because he is ashamed of the chaos and disaster he created. He would rather live as “English” then as the Hungarian desert explorer Almasy. This choice could be a conscious one or an unconscious one. Despite all this ambiguity, Almasy’s relationship with Katharine defines his life. The day he met her he says, “ That night I fell in love with a voice. Only a voice. I wanted to hear nothing more” (Ondaatje 144). The English Patient also says later on in their relationship, “ He wants only her stalking beauty, her theatre of expressions. He wants the minute and secret reflection between them, the depth of field minimal, their foreignness intimate like two pages of a closed book. He has been disassembled by her” (Ondaatje 155). .

    Almasy creates a mask of darkness, by using his condition and intelligence to cover up his painful past. In covering his past up he loses part of what makes him the person he is. He loses the memories that keep him together. The English Patient went through such distress in experiencing the death of Katharine and the destruction of his world around him (because of world war two and cease of desert exploration) that he became maniac and buried his past to avoid the pain. When trying to save Katharine, Almasy tries to convince the English to help him save her. Almasy says, “She was just seventy miles away and they wouldn’t listen… I must have gone berserk then. They were using these wicker prisons, size of a shower. I was put into one and moved by a truck, still in it. I was yelling Katharine’s name. Yelling the Gilf Kebir” (Ondaatje 251). Almasy is so disconnected from the man he once was, the cartographer who was madly in love, that he has convinced himself that he is already dead. Caravaggio ponders this idea; the book reads, “He is still amazed at the clarity of discipline in the man, who speaks sometimes in the first person, sometimes in the third person, who still does not admit that he is Almasy… “Death means you are in third person” (Ondaatje 247). The memories that the English patient struggles to face are the same ones that shape and define the person he is.

    The English Patient hides many truths from the world around him, many of which are dark and tragic. In reality his most dark moments are those when he forgets his past and runs from it instead of the darkness of the actually experiences. Regardless of all these faults, his truths are his most influential memories that define his personality and history. Almasy was a lover of literature, a lover of the desert, a lover of Katharine but yet a hater of ownership of any of these things. The most prominent reason for the disaster that befell the English Patient and the illusion that he decided to live behind is the battle of ownership; the ownership of knowledge, the ownership of land and the ownership of the women he loved.

  19. Laura Vargas
    Ms. Cox
    January 18th 2013
    All Because of a Very Influential Woman

    A very wise person once said something to the extent of “Behind every great man there is a great woman.” I for one couldn’t agree more and Marla Singer’s role in Fight Club attests this quotation with flying colours. Marla Singer is the most influential character in the novel; this is a pretty hefty title considering that she is the only female in the novel.
    Before Marla, the narrator was stuck in a cubicle with no meaning in life, after Marla his world is turned upside down. Marla, to me, is the driving force in the plot from the very first chapter of the novel. “Up on top of the Parker-Morris Building with Tyler’s gun in my mouth…I know all of this: the gun, the anarchy, the explosion is really about Marla Singer… Without Marla, Tyler would have nothing” (Palahniuk,14). Without Marla the plot of the story would have amounted to nothing. When Marla appears at the same support groups as the narrator he can’t help but be intimidated by her and begins to feel self-conscious; in turn making him unable to cry at the meetings limiting him from feeling any sort of emotion. I argue that in an attempt to find a new comfort like the self-help groups gave, the narrator subconsciously created Tyler and starts Fight Club.
    Marla’s is somewhat unstable and has some issues of her own but she is the narrator’s better half. It isn’t until the end of the book that the narrator realises how important Marla is to him. The narrator at first believes that Fight Club is some sort of escape for himself and others living similar lives like him, “a copy of a copy of a copy” (Palahniuk,21). Eventually getting the crap kicked out of each other, just like all great things, loses its appeal. Next Tyler decides to create Project Mayhem, a step by step plan to destroy civilization and an attempt to once again feel something but still he feels incomplete. Marla Singer makes due with what she has; she is clever, resourceful and uncomplicated. While the narrator, in an attempt to hit rock bottom and live this new life he’s created for himself, has become very complicated and a huge mess. Ironically it isn’t until after the narrator turns Marla’s mother into soap that we see an emotional connection with the two characters. The turning point for me occurs when Marla asks the narrator to check for lumps in her breast and the narrator tries to make her laugh by telling her funny stories he’s never told anyone before, like when he tells her about the birthmark on his foot shaped like Australia. “Marla isn’t laughing, I want to make her laugh, to warm her up. To make her forgive me for the collagen” (Palahniuk,106). I think this is the point when the narrator really realizes how precious human interaction is.
    When the Narrator is in the asylum he says “I would call Marla from Heaven and the moment she says, ‘Hello,’ I wouldn’t hang up. I’d say, ‘Hi. What’s happening? Tell me everything.”( Palahniuk,207) demonstrating that after everything the only thing he treasures is his relationship with Marla. His life wasn’t just his anymore but shared by memories between the two of them. At the end of the novel the narrator states “We are not special, we are not crap or trash either. We just are. We just are, and what happens just happens” (Palahniuk, 207) I think by this he is slightly referring to Marla and the love he’s found in her, even though he wasn’t looking for it. Maybe he didn’t need Fight Club or Project Mayhem after all, but just Marla to make him realize that: Our lives end but what makes it worth it is being able to care or have passion towards something or someone.

  20. Olivia Amu
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG 4U- 04
    Jan 18, 2013
    A Convoluted Reconciliation

    War is a circumstances from which a person will be forever changed. When a person goes to war, whether it is to nurse soldiers back to health like Hana, gathering information like Caravaggio, or cleaning up the mess like Kip, the people never return the same. War changes people and how they think of the world. People’s beliefs and values change, more often for the worse than for the better. In The English Patient, Hana is a character who is the most damaged, to the point where she lost her love of life.
    Hana was a young Canadian girl when she decides to follow those close to her into the fronts of war. It is at that point when an innocent girl who decides to dedicate herself to helping others then becomes a woman of war who holds the dying in her arms, and helps them through their last moments. Hana is witness to violence and devastation, and yet she still finds the strength to keep working and trying to help her patients, even when it means losing parts of herself.
    When someone decides to care, really care about another person, his/her life become linked. The more Hana cares about her patients, the more hurt she becomes as they die, after having tried her best to nurse them back to health, or at the very least ease their passing. Hana loses her girlish innocence in these surroundings, as well as her unborn child and it’s father. Somewhere in Hana’s experiences, she slowly loses her love of life.
    Nurses too became shell-shocked from the dying around them. Or from something as small as a letter. They would carry a severed arm down a hall, or swab at blood that never stopped, as if they were a well, and they began to believe in nothing, trusted nothing. They broke the way a man dismantling a mine broke the second his geography exploded. The way Hana broke in Santa Chiara Hospital when an official walked down the space between a hundred beds and gave her a letter that told her of the death of her father (41).

    While Hana lives at the Villa San Girolamo, she takes on a semblance of indifference to many situations. Surrounded by the dangers of hidden mines while living as a caretaker to a dying man didn’t phase Hana at all. When Caravaggio enters the novel, she pays little attention to him, acting the same as before his arrival. Her life consisted only of survival and the English Patient; little else drew her attention until the arrival of Kip. Hana didn’t live her life happily, though she didn’t live it unhappily. She seemed to feel very little. Nothing would frighten her, and death was no longer anything to fear for her now. Where most people fear loss or the pain that it brings, enough so that they retreat away from others, Hana was so accustomed to the feeling of loss that she gave up on trying to protect herself from it.
    I thought I was going to die. I wanted to die. And I thought if I was going to die I would die with you… I saw so many dying near me in the last year. I didn’t feel scared. I certainly wasn’t brave just now… I’m so tired, Kip, I want to sleep. I want to sleep under this tree, put my eye against your collarbone I just want to close my eyes without thinking of others, want to find the crook of a tree and climb into it and sleep (103).

    Hana is so damaged from her time in the war that she is no longer able to assimilate back into regular society. She refuses to move forward in her life, which is shown both at her refusal to abandon the English Patient once the war is over, and in her inability to find comfort in the people around her.
    “And Hana moves possibly in the company that is not her choice. She, at even this age, thirty-four, has not found her own company, the ones she wanted (301).”
    For Hana, her war is not over, and will likely never be over. She has emotional scars that she will likely have for the rest of her life, and it affects how she chooses to live. Whereas the others find ways to move on from the war, even start families, this is something that Hana is unable to do. Like the English Patient, her mind remains forever trapped in her past, living with the knowledge that she is going to die, and refusing to be afraid.

  21. Alia Shihadeh

    Ms. Cox

    ENG 4U1-03

    January 13 2012

    The English Patient Blog

    If the quotation by Samuel Beckett “What I suddenly saw then was … clear to me at last the dark I have always struggled to keep under is in reality my most…” was continued by the English patient, he would have most likely finished the quotation with “ The most… desirable wish I have is to perfectly love you forever.” This quotation encompasses what the English patient is about. The Novel the English Patient is a romantic drama written by Michael Ondaatje. The English Patient takes place before and during the time of the Second World War. The story is told through a chain of flashbacks by the English Patient. He talks about his background, the people he knew and loved, and how the trials he faced lead him to the unbearable fate of being away from his love. The most important part of the quotation is how he wants to “love” Katharine “forever”. This is said and understood throughout the novel. The English Patient, Almasy, says to Caravaggio, “I feel in love” (Ondaatje 233). He is helplessly explaining that he loves her and although there were many things to make Katharine almost untouchable, he was very confident and convinced that he could win her heart. He says, “Knowing that I would eventually become her lover” (Ondaatje 233). He falls for Katharine, and wants to do anything he can to get her. Katharine is first introduced during the first flashback of the English Patient. She is shown climbing out of a plane with her husband, Geoffrey Clifton, as she first arrives to the desert. The English Patient said,” When I met Katharine she was married: “Clifton climbed out of plane and then, unexpected for we had planned the expedition with just him in mind, she emerged” (Ondaatje 229). This quotation explains the first encounter between Katharine and Almasy. The second part of the quotation talks about Katharine being a married woman. This is very significant because this is the very first and biggest obstacle Almasy runs into that disallows him to fulfill his deepest desire. What he desires most is said in his quotation; he says what he desires most is to “perfectly love” Katharine. The English Patient says, “We were the thin edge of a cult she had stumbled onto because of this marriage” (Ondaatje 231). As shown in the quotation, this dilemma is brought up more than once and is what exactly leads Katharine’s to breakup with Almasy. Katharine says, “We will never love each other again. We can never see each other again: “I think he will go mad. Do you understand?”(Ondaatje 157). At this point, Almasy is truly heart broken. Almasy says nothing, “abandoning the attempt to pull her within him” (Ondaatje 157). Ondaatje is trying to create the sad atmosphere of when two lovers part especially considering how madly in love with her he is. The indicated is meaningful because Ondaatje is describing the tension during that moment and the emotions of both characters. Just knowing her can’t have her makes him want her even more. Almasy doesn’t have much to say to convince her to stay because he knows she has already made up her mind to leave. By the end of the novel the two chronological phases are brought together and Ondaatje informs the reader that Almasy is the English Patient. It comes together when the English Patient starts talking about his story with Katharine. The reader realizes that the story of Almasy are actually flashbacks of the English Patient. Until the moment the English patient passes he is talking about how he wants and mourns for Katharine. Part of him not being able to fulfill this dream is why he wants her so bad. This is why an expected quotation from the English patient would be the “The most desirable wish I have is to perfectly love you forever.”

  22. John Cho
    Faith is key
    Ian McEwan’s novel, Atonement covers the main theme of forgiveness. The main character, Briony Tallis wants to amend her wrong. Robbie Turner, the person who was accused of rape by Briony, does not want to forgive her. Robbie feels the most unfaithful because he feels that he is untrustworthy, unreliable, and disloyal to the Tallis family.
    The Tallises’ not rejecting the idea of Robbie raping Lola, causes him to feel as if he is untrustworthy. After being accepted into the family as a young boy, Robbie is grateful for all the opportunities he has been given. Earlier in his life the Tallis family showed Robbie the trust they have in him by helping him through school, “Jack Tallis took the first step in an enduring patronage by paying for his uniform and textbooks” (McEwan 82). This shows that Jack trusts Robbie that he will succeed in life. Paying for his school demonstrates his faith in Robbie’s future. Welcoming him into the family and paying for his education displays Jack’s trust he once had.
    Briony makes Robbie seem unreliable because she blames him for the rape of Lola. She is convinced it was him and convinces Lola it was Robbie. She uses her vivid imagination to create scenarios that convinces her that Robbie is guilty: “What strange powers did he have over? Blackmail? Threats? Briony raised two hands to her face and stepped back a little way from the window” (McEwan 36). Briony does not even consider the fact that Cecilia is doing all that on her own will. Briony points fingers immediately at Robbie. When Briony was ten, she jumped into the river to see if Robbie would save her life. She trusted him with her life. After Briony found out he would save her, Robbie says he would risk his life for her. Briony then says, “I want to thank you for saving my life. I’ll be eternally grateful to you” (McEwan 218). Robbie risked his life to save Briony from her childish action. She relied on him to save her from drowning and then thanked him for it. Briony relied her own life on him but now she accuses Robbie of rape and making him seem unreliable with the scenarios she has created with her imaginations.
    Robbie feels disloyal to the Tallis family because after Robbie’s father abandoned Robbie and Grace Turner, they have been added to the Tallis family to work in the house. Robbie being accepted to a family instead of being on the streets causes him to feel loyal to the Tallis family for giving the Turner’s a chance. “Grace Turner became the Taillises’ cleaner the week after Ernest walked away. Jack Tallis did not have it in him to turn out a young woman and her child” (McEwan 82). As kids they grew up together and played together. “Robbie grew up with the run of the nursery and those other parts of the house the children were permitted, as well as the grounds. His tree-climbing pal was Leon, Cecilia was the little sister who trustingly held his hand and made him feel immensely wise” (McEwan82). This shows that the Turners were in the Tallis family for a long time. They have created a special bond between them, but when Briony accuses Robbie of rape the Tallises’ did not reject the idea.
    Robbie Turner feels the most unfaithful from the Tallis family because after all the history he had with the Tallis family, they have no faith in Robbie to believe he did not rape Lola. To forgive someone, the person must have faith in the other person. There must be trust between the two people.

  23. Holly Mcpherson
    ENG 4U1-03
    18, January, 2013

    In Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, Fight Club, one can find that the narrator avoids and denies the fake at all costs. If the narrator were to complete “the most…” line from Krapp’s Last Tape this is how he would complete it “What I suddenly saw then was… clear to me at last that the dark I have always struggled to keep under is in reality my most… true self.” The narrator would be referring to the first time he was introduced to Marla. Marla is truly free and the narrator realizes this upon the first night of being introduced to her. He leads a plain, averagely eventless life as the rest of society. While Marla Singer has hit bottom and lives a true life by doing the things she wants to do. The narrator is jealous of Marla’s life and strives for that same freedom she possesses. Notice the change in the narrator’s day to day routines after Marla enters his life, “Until tonight, two years if success until tonight, because I can’t cry with this woman watching me. Because I can’t hit bottom, I can’t be saved.” (Palahniuk 22). Marla releases a part of the inner narrator that triggers him to begin the quest to hit bottom (ultimately he wants to emulate Marla’s life). The narrator longs for the truth in himself and finds someone as real as Marla, which has found her true self through hitting rock bottom. After meeting Marla, the narrator’s insomnia comes back, his therapy sessions are no longer enjoyable and most importantly, he meets Tyler Durden. In other words, his life begins to slide downhill after meeting Marla. The narrator begins to force himself into becoming his true self, so he recreates himself as Tyler Durden. Tyler is the narrator’s alter ego who has already hit rock bottom ,and is completely free to do anything. Tyler is the release that Marla triggers. As Tyler convinces the narrator to hit bottom by giving him a chemical, he explains “We can use vinegar… to neutralize the burning, but first you have to give up… first you have to hit bottom.”(Palahniuk 76). In essence, Tyler is telling the narrator that hitting rock bottom will allow his pain to wash away. The narrator puts himself through traumatic events ,so that he will fall faster into his true self; he chemically burns his hand, beats himself up, blows up all of his possessions and sabotages his jobs. The narrator ruins his life for the truth and freedom; exactly like Marla. The narrator realizes, after meeting Marla that “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” (Palahniuk, 77). Those are the wise words of Tyler Durden; the very person he becomes to hit bottom and find his true self. All in all, the narrator wants something simple ,yet this comes with the price of everything that he’s ever worked for. The narrator wants his most true self.

  24. Fight Club is a novel about overcoming corporate America and separating yourself from the thought of being self important and being unique. It’s the story of a mass of men who are done believing in the american dream, and are ready to live out Tyler Durden’s. Entering the project Mayhem doors are a loot of men from all ranges of the social line. From poor to middle class, they all seek the same rush and adrenaline of living in the moment, and filling that empty void they might have. That empty void however can sometimes make these men extremely vulnerable. Big Bob the most vulnerable character in Fight Club struggles to deal with the pains of his life. He was once a professional body builder but lost it all when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer as a result of steroid abuse. The testicular cancer led Big Bob losing his testicules and growing man boobs. His vulnerability stems from his sadness and confusion about his life. He is looking for that certain special therapy to mend and heal his soul. With his guard down he is vulnerable and open to any praise or method to make him feel like a respectful man again. Big Bob has a lot to be upset about. The narrator states, “Fast forward to the cancer. He was bankrupt, he had two grown kids who wouldn’t return his phone calls, and he had gone through three divorces” (Palahniuk 23). All these factors have carved out a large piece of Big Bob’s self-esteem and self worth having him loan for acceptance and a feel of worthiness. Although he is doing well by searching for a way to regain some self pride he is still vulnerable. His vulnerability can be very dangerous if exploited by the wrong person. He is looking for answers and it so happens these answers he searches for come in the form of Tyler Durden. Tyler’s unordinary concepts of life have bewitched Big Bob in to doing and saying anything to abide by Tyler’s rules. The narrarator states, “On his hand was a scar from my kiss. Big Bob’s sculpted hair had been shaved off and his fingerprints have been burned off with lye” (Palahniuk 177). He is transformed into the supreme space monkey being nothing more than a person without a name or identity. His need to find a method to heal his wounds has him running around blowing up corporate buildings dressing and conforming to Tyler’s ideal picture of a man. Project Mayhem has the ability to manipulate men, men who have been scarred, hurt and feel abandoned. Big Bob fits the bill perfectly. He’s everything Project Mayhem and Fight Club look for. His bankrupt, man boobed, divorced, acceptance seeking life makes him the most vulnerable character in Fight Club. Although he is a genuinely a nice man he is insecure and a pushover which makes him easy picking for Tyler to transform him into one of his order following space monkeys.

  25. In a novel full of strong controlling characters there is one who stands out as the most controlling; the one character that everyone talks about and calls a legend; Tyler Durden. When the narrator meets Tyler on the beach; Tyler had made a shadow of a giant hand. A hand can mean controlling because a person has their hands on everything to control what is happening. Right when the narrator met Tyler it showed that Tyler was controlling. Throughout the novel Tyler seems to be controlling what the narrator does by telling him what to say. For example; when the investigator was on the phone with the narrator about his apartment and how it blew up. Tyler told the narrator to tell the investigator that it was him who did it. Tyler also makes the narrator promise not to talk to Marla about him. Tyler controls what the narrator says. Tyler Durden is also controlling over Fight club. He makes the rules that everyone who wants to fight has to follow or else they won’t be able to fight. Tyler is the one who starts the other Fight clubs in other cities, and everyone looks up to him. Everyone looks up to him by following his rules for Fight club and Project Mayhem. “But I’m Tyler Durden. I invented fight club. Fight club is mine. I wrote these rules. None of you would be here if it wasn’t for me. And I say it stops here!” (Palahniuk 179). In this quotation Tyler is saying that no one would be here at fight club if it wasn’t for him because he made fight club and all the rules, and he can take it away. Tyler’s rules for Project Mayhem involve himself because he needs to be controlling it. “The rule in project mayhem is you have to trust Tyler” (Palahniuk 130). Three out of the five rules of project mayhem involve Tyler. Tyler clearly seems like God to these people involved in project mayhem, because they do everything Tyler tells them to. The space monkeys burn off their finger prints, so they technically don’t have their identities anymore. The space monkeys throw away everything just to become someone in project mayhem. Tyler controls everyone in project mayhem. People barely even know him, but they call him a legend. Another time in the novel when we see Tyler being controlling is when he forces the worker of a store to go to school to become a veterinarian which is what the worker really wants. Tyler said he would check up on him to see if he is following through with going to school to become a veterinarian. The consequence of the worker of the store not going to school is that Tyler has his information and knows where he lives. This shows that Tyler is controlling because he wants this man to go to school, he is forcing him. These are a few examples of why Tyler Durden is the most controlling character in this novel.

    • Ashley Boulton
      Anything to Satisfy the Readers.
      Authors write novels to appeal to their target readers as well as getting their story told. This is the same for the protagonist Briony Tallis. However she knew that to appeal to her target audience she would need to make her story more interesting; to do so, Briony altered the truth. Although her story appealed to her target audience, altering the truth came with many struggles and life threatening experiences for herself and her loved ones. Throughout the novel we see Briony go through many challenges due to her decisions and lack of truth. Briony`s “most” is that she regrets the consequences of the truths that she altered. Although Broiny tells many lies in her novel, there are two that are most significant which I will be explaining. The first altered truth that Briony created in Atonement emotionally traps readers into believing that two lovers; Robbie Turner and her older sister Cecilia Tallis moved away together, started careers and lived fantastic lives together. It is not until page 350 that the readers discover the truth with respect to their lives. Throughout the novel readers were prompted to believe that Robbie and Cecilia lived “happily ever after.” Briony even created a scene where she went to visit them to ask for forgiveness but she never followed up with what happened leaving the audience believing they all lived happily and reunited. Briony says “I know there’s always a certain kind of reader who will be compelled to ask, But what really happened?” The answer is simple: the lovers survive and flourish” (McEwan, 350). This is one of the biggest lies that Briony created, she altered the truth of peoples lives knowing that if she told the real story the consequence would be different. In the readers eyes, what Briony is writing is true so who would question her? She realized that persuading the reader of the false truth was a lot more appealing however there was no purpose in lying because no one cares what the real answer is in a post modern novel. “But now I can no longer think what purpose would be served if say I tried, to persuade my reader, by direct or indirect means that Robbie Turner died of septicemia at Bay Dunes on 1 June 1940 or that Cecilia was killed in September of the same year by the bomb that destroyed Balham Underground station” (McEwan, 350). She goes on to say “How would that constitute an ending? What sense or hope or satisfaction could a reader draw for such an account…I couldn’t do that to them” (McEwan, 350). This is the point of the novel when Briony realizes her consequence if she didn’t alter the truth and she states that the novel wouldn’t have been as satisfying to the readers. She feared that if she told the truth than her novel wouldn’t have been as well liked. However Briony never got atonement from her family which may have been a reason why she wrote the novel. She may have thought that if she told the truth it would upset her family more whereas lying softened up the story. Briony feared the consequence either way because she wrote the novel for atonement so altering or not she was afraid of her families reactions which would have led to the consequence. But still the questions arise, was it fair to not have Robbie and Cecilia’s stories truthfully? The second altered truth was Briony’s atonement. She knew the consequence was not in her favour. Her actions were unforgivable; no one cared for answers in a post modern novel so altering it would make her look better as a whole. One Briony came to the realization that it was unforgivable she decided that trying to atone was better than nothing at all. “The problem these fifty-nine years has been this: how can a novelist achieve atonement when with her absolute power of deciding outcomes,s he is also God? There is no one…It was an impossible task, and that was precisely the point. The attempt was all. (McEwan, 350-351) If Briony truly wanted atonement wouldn’t she have gone to Cecilia’s instead of making the scene up? She feared the consequence of not receiving it so she altered it to make it seem like she tried. Broiny’s “most” was that she feared the consequences of the truth that she altered. If the novel was written honestly, she would never receive the humanity she obtains by realizing that atonement is not possible.

  26. Accusations, Jail, Letters, and War
    Olivia Johnson

    Ian McEwan’s Atonement is a brilliant novel about three characters whose life changes drastically during the summer of 1935. The most drastic change occurs to Robbie Turner; the Tallis family’s house keepers son. Robbie suffers the most due to the changes during the summer. When he is falsely accused of a rape, Robbie is arrested and his aspirations of becoming a doctor, as well as being with his newly found love Cecilia Tallis, are eliminated because of the false accusations by Briony Tallis such as: “The handcuffs were in full view, but Robbie did not appear ashamed or even aware of them as he faced Cecilia and listen gravely to what she was saying” (McEwan 173). Following this accusation, Robbie is sent to jail then sent to France to fight in the war.

    Robbie suffers more than Cecilia because Robbie is the one that has to go to jail. He has to live with the fact that he was convicted on false charges and that he has to face the war; on top of never being able to be with Cecilia. While Robbies in the war he has to live with never knowing if he’s going to make it home, let alone to the next day. The only thing he has to keep him going, and keep him sane, is Cecilia. Even though Robbie and Cecilia have never really been able to be together as lovers, they still continue to have faith in each other and they write to each other all the time. Cecilia’s letters are the only thing Robbie has to hold onto, to get him through the war: ” He knew these last lines by heart and mouthed them now in the darkness. My reason for life, Not living, but life. That was the touch. And she was his reason for life, and why he must survive” (McEwan 197). For him, this survival ties into the letters that Cecilia has written. “ He didn’t owe them explanations. He intended to survive, he had one good reason to survive”( McEwan 181). Cecilia is Robbies reason to survive, and her letters are what are helping him to. “ You’re in my thoughts every minute. I love you. I’ll wait for you. Come back. Cee” (Mcewan 197). Robbie knows that if he ever gets back to Cecilia that his life will never be the same, and he will always have to live with what happened back in that summer of 1935. He might get Cecilia back but he’ll never get his old life back.

    Robbie suffers the most out of all of the characters because even though none of their lives are ever the same after that summer, the rest of the characters don’t have their lives destroyed like Robbie does. Briony has to live with what shes done, and Cecilia has to live without Robbie but they both still have their lives; they’re both still safe. Cecilia can still go to school and go get a job. Be whatever she wants to be, and Briony can still grow up and go to school, she can get a job and get married. But Robbie will never have that again. He’ll never hold Cecilia again, become a doctor, or get his life back. He’ll never be atoned.

  27. Helen Zou

    Palahniuk’s Fight Club revolves around the schizophrenic protagonist known as the Narrator and his alter ego Tyler Durden. An overarching theme of the novel is self-destruction, which is shown the most through the actions of the Narrator and Tyler. Although their personalities oppose each other, it is evident that both characters share the immense desire for self-destruction because “only after disaster we can be resurrected” (Palahniuk 70).

    The Narrator initially strives for perfection in his life; however, he soon realizes that by self-destruction he is able to experience freedom due to the absence of restrictions. Initially, the Narrator is content with his consumerist lifestyle as he takes interest in purchasing furniture and items of no significance to him for satisfaction. He comes to a realization that the consumerist lifestyle does not satisfy him, thus following him destroying his condo and all his belongings. The Narrator explains: “At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves” (Palahniuk 52). As he is constantly struggling to please his boss and come to terms with psychological issues such as insomnia he argues: “Maybe self-improvement isn’t the answer. . . Maybe self-destruction is the answer” (Palahniuk 49). He recognizes that he will only be satisfied due to destroying his old life and consuming nothing; thus, being saved as an individual with no expectations or boundaries.

    Nonetheless, without hallucinations of Tyler Durden the Narrator would have been influenced by Tyler’s theory of self-destruction. Tyler sees the potential in men to refine themselves once they have endured suffering. When the Narrator recalls that: “Tyler explained it all, about not wanting to die without any scars, about being tired of watching only professionals fight, and wanting to know more about himself. About self-destruction” (Palahniuk 52), he is aware that Tyler’s philosophy on having self-discovery through the process of self-destruction is an effective idea. Since Tyler rejects the idea of prosperity and civilization, he believes that all humans should be equal and of no higher value to each other. He declares that “It’s only after you’ve lost everything, that you’re free to do anything” (Palahniuk 70). As a strong enforcer of self-destruction and chaos, Tyler sees the elimination of civilization and rules allow humans to experience freedom and become resurrected.

    Thus, Palahniuk has crafted a clever novel depicting the significance in self-destruction through characters such as the Narrator and Tyler Durden. Self-destruction is often viewed as the deterioration of an individual, in a negative depiction; however, it is true that once one loses the artificial aspects of their life they can truly be saved. Palahniuk suggests that the result of self-destruction gives one the blessing of self-realization, freedom, and a more fulfilling perspective on the world.

  28. Rachel Morkunas

    All of the characters in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient face numerous challenges with great difficulty, but Hana is easily the most afflicted character in the novel. The realities of war and death play such a large role in her life that she quickly becomes desensitized to everything around her. In order to better cope with her feelings, Hana learns to create distance between her patients and herself, calling them all ‘Buddy’. A few days into her employment as a nurse, Hana cuts off her hair and refuses to look in a mirror for the remainder of the war. She detaches herself emotionally from who she is and who she used to be. This becomes further obvious when Hana steals a dead patient’s tennis shoes, “One night when one of the patients died she ignored all rules and took the pair of tennis shoes he had with him in his pack and put them on. They were slightly too big for her but she was comfortable” (Ondaatje 50). She is able to cope with death by not allowing herself to dwell on the deaths of those around her. Ondaatje gives an accurate depiction of Hana’s affliction when he writes that “Nurses too became shell-shocked from the dying around them. Or from something as small as a letter. They would carry a severed arm down a hall, or swab at blood that never stopped, as if the wound were a well, and they began to believe in nothing, trusted nothing. They broke the way a man dismantling a mine broke the second his geography exploded. The way Hana broke in Santa Chiara Hospital when an official walked down the space between a hundred beds and gave her a letter that told her of the death of her father” (41). Hana experiences tremendous guilt over her father’s death, for which she claims responsibility. She hopes to amend her guilt by willingly staying behind, and nursing the English Patient in the Italian villa. The English Patient is the manifestation of all of her loss, and she cares for him much more than she cares for herself. Ondaatje writes that “Every four days she washes his black body, beginning at the destroyed feet…She has nursed him for months and she knows the body well” (1). Hana keeps the English Patient alive in the way she couldn’t for her father, but this does little to appease her. After she helps Kip diffuse a bomb, Hana expresses feelings that she usually keeps buried deep within her when she states, “’I thought I was going to die. I wanted to die. And I thought if I was going to die I would die with you. Someone like you, young as I am, I saw so many dying near me in the last year” (Ondaatje 103). The reader is able to catch a short glimpse of the pain that Hana must cope with regularly. She seems to have nearly lost the essence of life, and is completely desensitized by death. Although the war is nearing an end, the afflictions that Hana has faced and continues to face, haunt her daily life.

  29. His Name Is Tyler Durden
    In Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, there are three main characters, the narrator, Tyler Durden, and Marla Singer. These three characters make up the enlightening story of Fight Club. All three of these characters have taken their own turn in proving their unique personalities throughout the book. Although many characters in the book are easily recognized, one character stands out as being the most intelligent, superior, and God like. One would believe Tyler Durden posses these qualities which are evident throughout the whole book. Shortly after meeting Tyler the narrator needs little convincing to follow Tyler’s every move, and to obey all of his commands. Working as a team, creating Fight Club, initiating new members, and sharing the secrecy with many men, Tyler and the narrator become great companions. Using hidden knowledge, Tyler creates homemade explosives and is able to develop soap out of human fat, which he sells to brand name stores. ” To make soap, first we have to render fat. Tyler is full of useful information.” (Palahniuk 65) He uses his intelligence to come up with many intriguing ideas including, Fight Club and Project Mayhem. Tyler is able to convince the narrator and many others that he is indeed intelligent, in which case he leads others to believing that Tyler’s rules to living are the only rules that matter. ” When Tyler invented Project Mayhem, Tyler said the goal of Project Mayhem had nothing to do with other people. Tyler didn’t care if other people got hurt or not. The goal was to teach each man in the project that he had the power to control history.” (Palahniuk 122) No matter what Tyler said, each member of Project Mayhem would follow his instruction for two reasons, “You don’t ask questions is the first rule in Project Mayhem” (Palahniuk 122) Also, because Tyler was superior over all members, based on the fact that he indeed was the creator and brains behind both Fight Club and Project Mayhem. Tyler lead Project Mayhem, while doing so, changed the lives of many men, especially the narrator. “I know this because Tyler knows this” (Palahniuk 112) Tyler was the narrators biggest influence, everything that the narrator knew was because of Tyler. Everything that the narrator said, was because Tyler told him to say it. Simple enough, Tyler was much more than the narrators mentor, he was his conscience. Oddly enough, no one ever fought against Tyler’s superiority. He proved to everyone that he deserved to be the leader of his creations. Tyler posses many God-like qualities during the story’s progression. He develops the rules of fight club and Project Mayhem. It is evident in the story that each member of the project look up to him, and aspired to be similar. During the creation of both Fight Club and Project Mayhem, Tyler informs all members of the rules and tasks that must be completed in order to be successful. Although each member diligently worked towards a finished product, no one knew exactly what that finished product is, except for Tyler. “Project Mayhem will break up civilization so we can make something better out of the world.”(Palahniuk 125) He made all of the decisions, and made sure that everyone followed his instruction. In comparison to a god, Tyler was the only person who knew what was to come next in Project Mayhem. ” What comes next in Project Mayhem, nobody except Tyler knows.” (Palahniuk 125) Tyler Durden is the character who most represents intelligence, superiority, and God like qualities overall throughout the book Fight Club.

  30. Garrett Dion
    Ms. Cox
    ENG 4U1
    January 18, 2013

    Fight Club: A Reflection of Madness

    In the novel Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, madness is a key factor that is developed. Marla Singer comes across as an idiotic crazy woman by pretending to have diseases at the support groups and swallowing a bottle of Xanax. Despite Marla’s lunacy, she shows that she is a strong-willed character and can control her madness while being at ‘rock bottom’. Unlike the narrator, Marla accepts that she is idiotic and continues living life on the edge. Marla informs the Narrator that her, “philosophy of life is that she could die at any moment” (Palahniuk 108). Marla is represented as the most idiotic character as she is everything that Tyler does not want to become. Her madness is reflective on Tyler.
    Marla is shown as an idiotic person when she arrives at the support groups smoking cigarettes and pretending to have a disease. There is no real reason why Marla shows up to the support groups. The Narrator notices that, “Marla smokes and rolls her eyes, [and that] in this moment, Marla’s lie reflects [his] lie, and all [he] can see are lies. In the middle of all their truth” (Palaniuk 22). Marla’s crazy lies at the support group are reflected on the narrator. The narrator goes to the support groups to find peace but her madness reflects his. He looks at Marla and hates that she does not see how similar they are. Marla is everything the narrator is, therefore he cannot cry or sleep anymore.
    Marla is also represented as the most idiotic character as she tries to control Tyler Durden by overdosing on Xanax. The overdose of Xanax was a test to discover if Tyler really did have feelings and compassion for her. While the narrator is talking to Marla she expresses that, “This wasn’t a for-real suicide, Marla said, this was probably just one of those-cry-for-help things, but she had taken too many Xanax” (Palaniuk 59). Marla is using her madness to manipulate Tyler into having sex with her. When Tyler did save her, she no longer spoke of herself as being worthless, but felt loved for the first time. She then attempted to manipulate Tyler again with the cancer scare. Marla is clearly insecure as she feels she should not be in control of her life, whereas Tyler is trying to control his life and change the world.
    In conclusion, Marla displays idiotic behaviour, such as pretending to have diseases in the support groups, overdosing on Xanax to commit suicide, and manipulating Tyler so she can feel loved. Palahniuk displays Marla’s madness in order to reflect on the narrator’s character. The narrator realizes that he is becoming insane, so he tries to change himself, in order to avoid becoming Marla.

  31. Drew Chapelle
    Ms. Cox
    ENG 4U1
    January 16, 2013
    Emotional Scars Lie Deeper
    All people are scarred. Some scars are easy to see, physical scars such as old cuts, wounds and surgeries. Others can be seen through actions like mental scars. The scars that are the hardest to see, and the scars that most traumatize the inner self, are emotional scars. For this aforementioned reason, within the novel, The English Patient, Hana is the most scarred of the four characters that, in the last year before the end of World War 2, came together, converging upon an abandoned villa in the hills near Florence, Italy.
    Hana, a young Canadian nurse, loses her father while he was in France fighting in the war and she was elsewhere in Europe working in the military hospitals. Her father was severely burned in battle and was left to die alone. Hana is emotionally scarred by this because she is a nurse whose job it is to help injured and ill people get better but when the most important man in her life, her father, needed her talents the most, she wasn’t there to help him. Hana’s thoughts are expressed in Chapter Three:
    Did her father struggle into his death or die calm? Did he lie the way the English patient reposes grandly on his cot? Was he nursed by a stranger? A man not of your own blood can break upon your emotions more than someone of your own blood. As if falling into the arms of a stranger you discover the mirror of your choice. Unlike the sapper, her father was never fully comfortable in the world. (Ondaatje 90)

    Not only are Hana’s scars expressed in this fashion but she also reveals them to Clara, her step-mother, when she notifies her of Patrick’s, Hana’s father’s, death:
    How did Patrick end up in a dove-cot, Clara? His unit had left him, burned and wounded. . . He was a burned man and I was a nurse and I could have nursed him. Do you understand the sadness of geography? I could have saved him or at least been with him till the end. I know a lot about burning. How long was he alone with doves and rats? With the last stages of blood and life in him? . . . And he was alone, without lover or kin. (Ondaatje 296)

    This quotation serves as powerful support for the theory that Hana is not only scarred by her father’s death, but that the emotional impact it has on her follows her around and haunts her every single day of her life after the event.
    Additionally, upon the departure of Kip, the Sikh sapper whom Hana falls in love with, Hana is haunted by the severance of their story. The end of the crossing of these two lives, except for in the case of their memories, strikes Hana very deep emotionally and she struggles to cope with this scar:
    She kneels down to his level and leans forward into him, the side of her head against his chest, holding herself like that. A beating heart. When his stillness doesn’t alter she rolls back onto her knees. The Englishman once read me something, from a book: “Love is so small it can tear itself through the eye of a needle.” He leans to his side away from her, his face stopping a few inches from a rain puddle. A boy and a girl. (Ondaatje 288)

    It is impossible to fully understand how deeply a person is, or can be, scarred. There is no technology, and no instruction manual, in reading people and discovering what makes them who they are. The main reason why emotional scarring is so deep and hidden is because upon the occurrence of this scarring, the individual will do everything to hide it so as not to appear weak, it is an instinct of survival. It is best stated in Shakespeare’s, Hamlet, “I could be bounded in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams” (Shakespeare II,ii,243-244). This line can be taken to mean several different things for different readers. One possible interpretation is that the entire line is symbolism. Upon emotional scarring, the individual will build up their surroundings into what they want them to be, the nut shell. They will then build themselves into a person with all the qualities of which they yearn to possess, the king of infinite space. On the outside these people now appear to be completely unscathed, however on the inside they remain tormented and emotionally scarred and this type of scarring will be carried with someone until the day they die. The memories and the scarring, these are represented by the bad dreams. This being said, emotional scarring will show itself sporadically, or possibly frequently, in the life of an individual, but it will often lie undetected beneath the surface, only visible to the one who bears the scars themselves.
    Hana is the most scarred of the four characters whose stories overlap, near the end of World War Two, in the villa, in the hills, outside of Florence. She is such because, her scarring is mainly emotional scarring, and that is the type of scarring which always cuts the deepest.

  32. Tyler Durden the Control Freak
    In Palahniuk’s well known novel Fight Club, one of the main characters Tyler Durden, demonstrates his ability to control everyone around him. As the novel progresses, his dictating tendency becomes distinct as he begins to control the Narrator, the space monkeys, and his
    superior. With Tyler’s desire to control the people around him, this is what gives him the capability to create Project Mayhem, and ultimately control how society lives.
    Throughout the novel, Tyler Durden is constantly controlling others in an attempt to make the goal of Project Mayhem a reality. The first person that Tyler begins to control is the Narrator. Many times during the novel, the Narrator states that it is Tyler’s words coming out of his mouth and not his own. While threatening the Pressman Hotel, the Narrator says, “I might go to prison. They could hang me and yank my nuts off and drag me through the streets and flay my skin and burn me with lye, but the Pressman Hotel would always be known as the hotel where the richest people in the world ate pee. Tyler’s words coming out of my mouth. And I
    used to be such a nice person” (Palahniuk 114). This quotation demonstrates the severe power that Tyler possesses over others. By the Narrator admitting that what he was saying were Tyler’s words, it gives the impression that Tyler influences all of the Narrator’s actions.
    When Tyler Durden began Project Mayhem, his dictatorship became even more present. Tyler often used the space monkeys as slaves to create the type of society that he wanted. “Don’t bother them. They all know what to do. It’s part of Project Mayhem. No one guy understands the whole plan, but each guy is trained to do one simple task perfectly” (Palahniuk 130). As a result of Tyler dictating Project Mayhem, he is the only one who knows the full extent of the plan. This proves that he is in control because no one else is able to understand the purpose of their task as they are trained to just trust in Tyler.
    During the novel, Tyler Durden manipulates his superior to remain sending him paychecks, even if he is not working there. Tyler says, “Go ahead, right in the gut. Take another shot at my face. Cave in my teeth, but keep those paychecks coming. Crack my ribs, but if you miss one week’s pay, I go public, and you and your little union go down under lawsuits from
    every theater owner and film distributor and mommy whose kid maybe saw a hard-on in Bambi” (Palahniuk 115). Tyler’s skills of knowing what will make people do what he wants is what makes him a successful dictator. His effective control over others is what gives him the power to change society.
    Tyler Durden’s constant need to control others is what makes him a dictator, and is ultimately the driving force behind Project Mayhem. Overall, it is revealed that through controlling others, Tyler uses his leadership role as a way to create his ideal society through Project Mayhem.

  33. I am The Narrators Ambition
    The Narrator has many things he would like to accomplish but thinks he is unable to complete these goals. The Narrator creates Tyler Durdin, who is perfect to the Narrator in every aspect, to do what he was unable to do. The narrator always wanted to destroy all of his possessions so he can reach the bottom, and to fight against god and his father so he will not go unnoticed. The Narrator’s will is Tyler’s ambitions. The relationship between the Narrator’s goals and Tyler’s ambition both are the most dominant character trait.
    Tyler destroys the Narrator’s possessions to help him reach bottom, where the Narrator can be at peace with himself. The Narrator puts an emphasis on his freedom through loss when he thinks “‘the liberator who destroys my property,’ tyler said, ‘is fighting to save my spirit. The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free’” (Palahniuk, 110). Tyler is acting as both his “liberator” and “teacher” because he is working vigorously to remove his possessions and set his spirit free. Tyler’s ambition becomes not only focused on the Narrator reaching bottom, but everyone else in the world as well. Tyler makes many other people reach bottom by creating Project Mayhem. Each recruit in Project Mayhem only brings the minimum requirements for living and leaving all other possessions behind. This is directly relatable to the Narrator wanting to destroy everything that everyone ever owned when he stated that “I wanted to kill all the fish I couldn’t afford to eat, and smother the french beaches I’d never see. I wanted the whole world to hit bottom” (Palahniuk, 123). When the Narrator wanted “the whole world to hit bottom”, Tyler created a plan to make it possible.
    The narrator also wanted to fight back against God. Everyone in the world who is not a model or hero is just one of God’s children that are ignored. This is a similar to the Narrator’s father leaving him. His father has kids in many different families setting up a virtual franchise of forgotten children similar to some of gods less desirable creations. Since the fathers’ of young men in America are gods in the childrens eyes, the fight for attention from both god and his father are the same fight. Tyler’s idea is to rebel against God. The mechanic states that “‘Unless we get God’s attention, we have no hope of damnation or redemption. which is worse, hell or nothing?’” (Palahnuik, 141). The Mechanic is saying that God’s damnation is better than being one of God’s unwanted children and being left behind by your own creator. Tyler makes everyone in Project Mayhem believe that “hell” truly is better than “nothing”. By creating an entire army through Project Mayhem, Tyler has enough people to show companies, God (and his father consequently) that they should not be left behind because they are looked down on, lesser, or similar to other people.
    Both the Narrator and Tyler are the “most”. The Narrator is because of his boundless will and ideology for himself and the entire world. Tyler is the “most” because he will go through unimaginable lengths to get a job done thoroughly.

    Michael Potter

  34. Fight Club by Palahniuk is a cleverly crafted novel based on the theme of suicide. Throughout the novel, many depictions of suicidal characteristics are shown in the character, Marla Singer. Marla shows suicidal characteristics when she tries to overdose on xanax and when she is being checked for cancer.
    The first time Marla Singer shows characteristics of being suicidal is when she tries to overdose on xanax and calls for help to the Narrator. “This was probably just one of those cry for help things, but she had taken too many xanax” (Palahniuk 59) which shows Marla Singer talking to the Narrators on the phone about how she has a suicide attempt by overdosing on xanax. This shows that Marla is suicidal because she needs the attention from the Narrator and if she doesn’t get it she would probably die. Suicidal people often rely on others instead of working out their problems. This makes Marla Singer the most suicidal because unlike the other characters, Marla Singer actually makes an attempt at suicide because she is already “rock bottom”
    Another reason that Marla Singer shows the most depictions of being suicidal is when she is being checked for cancer. “Marla’s philosophy of life is that she might die at any moment. The tragedy, she said, was that she didn’t” (109) which is when Marla was being checked for cancer because of the lump on her neck. This shows that she is suicidal because she has a very negative philosophy and view on life. She doesn’t care whether this cancer kills her or not and she would rather die if anything. Much like other suicidal patients, cancer would be a gift instead of a bad thing because it slowly kills them and they don’t have to put in any effort. This is significant because Marla Singer already has the mentality to die unlike the Narrator. The Narrator slowly builds the confidence by the end of the book to end his life because of Tyler.
    Therefore, Fight Club uses the theme of suicide well using the character Marla Singer. Although the Narrator shoots himself, Marla shows her suicidal characteristics, even in the earliest parts of novel. Marla showed depictions of her suicidal characteristics when she tries to overdose on xanax and when she is being checked for cancer. The suicidal theme of this book brings out the dark side of the novel and plays a role in both Marla Singer’s and the Narrator’s life. Marla Singer showed that she is the most suicidal because through out the whole novel, she talks about dying and her negative views of life.

  35. Ian McEwan’s novel, Atonement, is a masterpiece. Within the masterpiece, McEwan has created many diverse characters that will stay with his readers forever. Among these characters, Briony is the most innocent by the way she thinks and the way she reacts to certain events in the novel. Even just in the first part, Briony’s innocence is clearly identified. As much as I hate Briony for her actions within the novel, I cannot deny that I also feel sorry for her. She was put into a bunch of situations that she was not emotionally or intellectually mature enough to handle. The most prominent example of her immaturity is when Robbie asks her to deliver a letter that he wrote to Cecilia and, being the curious thirteen year-old girl that she is, decides to read it. The letter reads: “In my dreams I kiss your cunt, your sweet wet cunt. In my thoughts I make love to you all day long” (86). Briony is the most innocent character. She had no previous experience to handle the content of the letter. She had never heard talk of sex, nor obviously has she had any personal experience with the act of sex. Not only did she have no previous experience to handle the letter properly, she also had no idea how to communicate what she had read in the letter. She didn’t know the words to use to explain the letter to herself or to Lola. If she had been less innocent and had the communication skills to explain what she had read to Lola, Lola would not have jumped to conclusions like she had. She would not have portrayed Robbie as the “maniac” that she had. That was the start to all the trouble in Robbie’s life, but had Briony not been so innocent, he never would have been arrested for the crime he had not committed. The other part of “evidence” against Robbie was the library scene. When Briony walked in on Robbie and Cecilia having sex, her innocent mind took it as being rape when it was in fact consensual. It is shown as consensual during Robbie’s perspective when he says: “Daringly, they touched the tips of their tongues, and it was then she made a falling, sighing sound which, he realised later, marked a transformation” (135). This shows that Briony’s innocent mind was taking something she thought she saw way out of proportion. She had clearly never seen two people having sex before and could therefore never be able to decide what that should look like being compared to rape. Had Briony not been so innocent, and had she not created the maniac within Robbie, her imagination never would have conjured up Robbie being Lola’s perpetrator and his life would not have been ruined the way that it was. So as much as I thought that Briony was a complex and interesting character, her innocence was what ruined Robbie’s and Cecilia’s lives. McEwan’s lesson for all of us through Briony’s innocence is that it is important to truly be aware of the world around us and to not allow your innocence (or lack of) to influence other people’s lives.

  36. Richinez Genge
    Ignorance Is Not Always Bliss

    Atonement, written by Ian McEwan, is a beautiful novel about a little girl, Briony, with an incomplete grasp of adult motives and an advanced imagination who commits a horrible crime. The novel is also about two lovers, Cecilia and Robbie, who have their lives destroyed by Briony’s misdemeanour. Briony is the most ignorant character in the book. Briony does not understand the flirtation between her sister, Cecilia, and Robbie and instead of asking for answers to the questions she has about adult life, she makes false assumptions and acts upon them. Her over-active imagination, incomprehension of facts and the situation as a whole leads her to believe that Robbie raped her cousin Lola. Briony is quick to accuse Robbie and does not fully understand what kind of affect her accusations will have on his life.

    Briony first witnesses the flirtation between Cecilia and Robbie at the fountain when Cecilia removes her clothing in front of Robbie. She does not fully grasp the feelings Robbie has for her sister until she reads a letter addressed to Cecilia. The letter contains a word that Briony does not fully understand, but she knows the word is bad and considered rude so she immediately views Robbie as a maniac. Briony believes she must take it upon herself to protect her sister from him because otherwise he will attack Cecilia. Instead of asking Cecilia or another adult what the word she read meant or tried to understand Robbie’s intentions with her sister she lets her imagination take over and assumes the worst of Robbie. When she walks in on Cecilia and Robbie in the library she thinks Robbie is attacking her sister, she stands there and stares at them until they leave the room. “Briony stared past Robbie’s shoulder into the terrified eyes of her sister…His left hand was behind her neck, gripping her hair, and with his right he held her forearm which was raised in protest, or self-defense”(McEwan,116). Briony could have talked to Cecilia about the encounter in the library and she would have learned that Cecilia was fine and what they were doing was completely normal but she is too caught up in her own beliefs to ask for the truth.

    Briony is uneducated in the rape situation between Lola and Paul Marshall. She believes Lola’s story right away when Lola claims to have been attacked by her brothers. Instead of seeing that it would be unlikely for two little boys to cause so much damage to an older girl and that Paul Marshall had a suspicious cut on his face at the dinner table that same night, Briony acts impolitely and unpleasant toward the twins: “‘They’re nice lads your brothers’ ‘Hah!’ Briony was savage, and did not give her cousin the time to speak. ‘Thats shows what little you know’…’but look what they did to her. scratched her face, and gave her a chinese burn!'”(McEwan, 132). Briony helps Paul Marshall get away with the rape because she takes away the attention from him and accuses the twins in front of everyone.

    Briony already had the idea that Robbie was a maniac planted firmly in her mind, so when she witnesses Paul abusing Lola she assumes it was Robbie. Briony does not even give Lola the chance to talk or explain what has happened. She is completely convinced she saw Robbie and Lola goes along with her claim in order to not have to confess the truth. “‘It was Robbie, wasn’t it?’ The maniac. She wanted to say the word. Lola said nothing and did not move. Briony said it again, this time without the trace of a question. It was a statement of fact. ‘It was Robbie,'”(McEwan, 156). Briony is quick to prefer charges against Robbie while uneducated about the war. Her ignorance has a huge effect on the outcome of Robbie’s life to an extent that she does not understand completely at the time.

    Briony is the most ignorant character in Atonement and makes many mistakes because of her unwillingness to ask for clarity or answers to her many questions. Her uneducated assumptions lead to life altering consequences for some of the other characters in the novel. Her ignorance ultimately leads to her feeling guilty and being unable to forgive herself for the crime she has committed. At the end of the novel it reveals that Cecilia and Robbie have died. Since Cecilia and Robbie are dead the part where Briony goes to Cecilias apartment is made up and the anger and unforgiving attitude Briony receives from “Cecilia” and “Robbie” are really just reflections on how she feels about herself. Her ignorance results in Robbie’s death while he fights in the war as well as Cecilia’s unhappiness. Her ignorance also causes Paul to get away with raping Lola and in the end Lola and Paul get married and Paul lives a life he does not deserve.

  37. Power & Control
    In the novel, Fight Club, there are a lot of issues dealing with Control, especially with the head dictator himself, Tyler Durden. Tyler the narrator’s dual personality right from the second you see him is shown as a very controlling person as the reader finds themselves seeing Tyler Durden naked on the beach building a giant wooden object in the shape of a hand, seems harmless enough, but is it really?
    The wooden hand structure seems harmless at first read, (on page 32), seeing how it is used to cast a shadow to tell time but evidentially it is a very big symbol that stands out to show how controlling Tyler is, using the big hand to cast a big shadow to signify that everything in his reach is under his control and that he has the power. Though the hand structure does not reoccur during the rest of the novella, it does set the mood that Tyler has the narrator in his grasp at first sight and controls him and his every move from then on.
    As the novel progresses Tyler starts to force the narrator into more and more things to try and “set him free.” Some of the ways he does this is by making him punch him outside of the club where the narrator eventually punches Durden in the neck feeling a little more lose and a little bit liberated. This liberation through fighting eventually leads Tyler into creating a fight club to make men feel more liberated without following the normal rules of society and feeling freer from it in a way. Even though Fight Club is supposed to be about feeling freer and letting loose a little bit, Tyler seems to still have a hold on everyone in the club with his so called “rules” of Fight Club. Tyler even states, ““But I’m Tyler Durden. I invented fight club. Fight club is mine. I wrote these rules. None of you would be here if it wasn’t for me. And I say it stops here!” (Palahniuk 179). With this quotation it clearly shows that even if Tyler sets out to make something liberating, he must be the one in control of it.
    Similar kind of rules are set and applied for his group, Project Mayhem. If you read the rules of Project Mayhem you will notice that Tyler seems to either just like hearing his name a lot, or just loves to be in control. Tyler even tells the narrator, “Don’t bother them. They all know what to do. It’s part of Project Mayhem.” (Palahniuk 130). From a reader’s perspective it looks as if Tyler has told them what to do and that they are basically to listen to no one else and to just do what they are told. Directly after that quotation it is stated that, “The rule in project mayhem is you have to trust Tyler” (Palahniuk 130). Basically backing up the point from earlier that Tyler is to be trusted, Tyler is the ring leader in the circus that we all must follow no one else, and just have faith in Tyler.
    Tyler is shown as the leader in this little follow the leader game he seems to be playing with his space monkeys. He could make them do absolutely anything he wanted whether it was burning their fingers to lose self completely and giving control of their lives to Tyler or even causing chaos in society, Tyler had them. Tyler was the Puppet Master in this novella from the moment he is seen right down until the bitter end, until the narrator finally seems to get a hold of himself. Near the end of the novella you find Tyler and the narrator together with a gun to the side of the narrator’s one good cheek as he states, “The barrel of the gun tucked in my surviving cheek, I say, Tyler, you mixed the nitro with paraffin, didn’t you. Paraffin never works. I have to do this. The police helicopters. And I pull the trigger.” (Palahniuk 205). It seems as though in what seems to be the last final minutes of our narrator, he finally wins, he gains the power back over his live that Tyler had been controlling, or so it seems.
    In this novella, Fight Club, Tyler Durden has complete control over everyone from the second he walks on the scene until the last final minutes when the narrator finally takes control, or does he? The author leaves the last chapter up to the reader to truly decide if he had gotten rid of Tyler for good or if he sticks by the narrator for good. Seeing how he talks to himself in the final moments calling himself a faker, it is up to the readers to decide whether it is just the narrator’s insanity or if Tyler is still there and forever will be there controlling him.

  38. Shanice Springer
    Ms. Cox
    ENG 4U1-03
    18 January, 2013

    The Mind of Durden

    In Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, one character stands out to be a very controlling and clever person. The Narrator, also known as Tyler Durden, runs the novel. Throughout the novel, Tyler, comes across as mister know it all. Tyler Durden is considered to be the most controlling and clever person because of the ways he comes about his life and other peoples.
    Throughout the whole novel, Fight Club and Project Mayhem are very important to Tyler. Tyler is the brains behind the whole idea. Tyler is Fight Club and Project Mayhem. Tyler Durden is considered the most clever character in Fight Club because he was smart enough to come up with rules. Rules that everyone must follow or there are consequences. “First rule about Project Mayhem, is you don’t ask questions about Project Mayhem” (Palahniuk 131) Tyler uses this big rule of Project Mayhem very seriously. With this rule he is hiding his identity from the Narrator and hoping the Narrator won’t figure out who Tyler really is. With no one talking about Tyler, the Narrator continues life thinking that Tyler is a totally separate person. Coming up with rules for all the space monkey’s to follow was a very smart move on Tyler’s part. Another part of the novel that shows that Tyler is a very clever guy is when he comes up with the rule of the new guys wanting to join the house. Making them stay on the porch for three days without moving really proves that the guys are loyal and committed to being part of the team. Tyler making so many rules for so many things is giving him the opportunity to hid behind who he really is. Tyler has thought this through and having all the space monkeys commit to his rules is helping him succeed.
    Tyler, being the brains of Fight Club and Project Mayhem, also comes across as a very controlling character. With his rules addressed to all of Fight Club and Project Mayhem, Tyler demands that these rules are to be followed. Tyler doesn’t take any if, and’s or But’s. His way or the highway. “The rule in Project Mayhem is you have to trust Tyler” (Palahniuk 130) Tyler uses this rule to control the whole group. Within Project Mayhem, Tyler has different committees. The arson, assault, mischief and misinformation are all committees Tyler put together to do their jobs on certain days and at certain times. Tyler knows best and he doesn’t want to be questioned. “Don’t bother them. They all know what to do. It’s part of Project Mayhem. No one guy understands the whole plan, but each guy is trained to do one simple task perfectly” (Palahniuk 130) With this quotation, it proves that Tyler uses the space monkeys and controls their every move. They wouldn’t know what to do without impute from Tyler. They are Tyler’s robots and only Tyler can control them. Part of Project Mayhem, Tyler, has a rule that you must only bring and wear certain items. Nothing more and nothing less. “If the applicant is young, we tell him he’s too young. If he’s fat he’s too fat. If he’s old, he’s too old. Thin, he’s too thin. White, he’s too white. Black, he’s too black” (Palahniuk 128-129) Tyler has impute from others and they are always wrong. Tyler has too many rules that everyone must obey. No one can tweak a rule. No one can change what Tyler says. Tyler can be gone days and days and not one member questions him.
    Overall, Fight Club was is full of characters wanting to be dominate. Tyler shows that he runs the show. Throughout the whole novel, Tyler uses his brain to manipulate and show who’s boss. Making rules for Fight Club and Project Mayhem was probably one of the smartest things Tyler could have done throughout the novel. Tyler really showed his dominate trait of being in power by controlling everyones thoughts and moves. Its Tyler’s way or no way at all. The mind of Durden, is the mind of everyone else.

  39. The Courage of Insanity and the Insanity of Courage

    Courage is a rare quality in our day and age. Our lives have become so soft and cushy that having the courage to step out of the status quo has been labeled as insanity. We think of the right way as the hard way. Courage is the use of fear to overcome and stand up for what one believes in. The narrator shows us the paradox of courage and insanity. Therefore he is the most courageous and insane. He shows us what courage is by taking responsibility for his alter egos actions. This is truly rare. People today have become caught up in the easy, ready made life that taking responsibility is an action that is often shirked. Tyler Durden creates a cult that totally opposes the Narrators ideals. After coming to terms of the fact that Tyler has been actively terrorizing America, he sets out to make things right. This is significant because many people would have taken the easy way out and would have plead guilty to the charges. The narrator is labeled as insane because he steps out of his comfort zone, in the name of what is right. His courage is insanity. The narrator attempts to thwart Tyler’s plans by turning himself into the police, and confessing to orchestrating a national mayhem project. (He goes through all this trouble to create the cult, and then shut it down himself). This shows us that the Narrator is willing to undergo incarceration to try and make things right at any cost. The Narrator is courageous because he knows the consequences, and goes out of his way to atone what his alter ego did. The Narrator is also the most insane because he comes to conclusions within life that the general populous cannot come to terms with. Early on in the novel the Narrator see’s his possessions differently from the rest of the world. “You buy furniture, you tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. buy the sofa, then for a couple of years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled, then the right set of dishes, then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things that you used to own, now they own you.” (Palahniuk 44). He sees that worldly possessions start to take a hold of a persons life. If one was to ask if their possession own them, they would think that the person is crazy: possessions are inanimate objects that have no control in choosing your life path. The narrator though sees how items start to become the person, and the person become their objects. I am Joe’s Iphone. I am Sally’s designer outfit. We are infatuated of the status of the possessions that we act like the status that they bring. Now if we go back to the Narrator’s insanity of thinking that our possessions own us, we find that he is completely correct. He comes to conclusions that are courageous in the fact that the simple person will not look to find flaw in their life, and this courage is considered to be absolutely insane. The Narrator is insane, and by extension, courageous.

  40. Srija Ghorai

    As of any story there’s not only one theme present in the book ‘The fight club’ but there are many. As one knows that, everybody in Palahniuk’s book ‘Fight club’ is portrayed in misery, despair and is also crazy/mad in some or the other way. But according to me the protagonist that is the narrator is the most mad person in the book. There are few instances which prove him to be insane for instance when the narrator burns a small part at the back of his hand with lye, the other where he goes on hitting himself in front of his manager and at last when he comes to know that he has a split personality. In the first instance the narrator (narrator and Tyler is both the same person which we come to know later) burns his own hands with a paste of lye and water that heats up to two hundred degrees. Taylor says “This is a chemical burn, and it will hurt more than you’ve ever burned.”(Palahniuk, 74) I think this is madness because no one will like to burn and torture their own selves whereas here the narrator was doing this crap to himself. As the narrator poured the paste of lye and water on his hand he kept his fingers on it and tells himself to pay attention. He felt that it was the greatest moment of his life though his eyes were filled with tears due to pain. Then he started imagining of different things and after few moments he opened his eye and saw the shape of the burn at the back of his hand and he loved the experience. The next instance is where the narrator keeps hitting himself in front of the manager of the Pressman Hotel. As the manager of the hotel said that he didn’t want the narrator to work in the hotel anymore then the narrator punched his own face with his fist. The narrator says “And without flinching, still looking at the manager, I roundhouse the fist at the centrifugal force end of my arm and slam fresh blood out of the cracked scabs in my nose.”(Palahniuk,116). This quotation proves that the narrator is a mad person. He went totally crazy, he kept on punching himself, blood poured from all over his face and he felt good. He still did not stop and at the same time cried for help and kept giggling. He truly is mad as I mentioned above that no individual would torture and beat himself to death and even if one would do he wouldn’t giggle. The narrator had some mental problem for sure. A normal person would have asked the reason that why didn’t the manager want him to work or some or the reason but instead of doing so the narrator did absurd and insane things. At the end of the book we come to know that the narrator had a split personality as the narrator says “Oh, this is bullshit. This is a dream. Tyler is a projection. He’s a dissociative personality disorder. A psychogenic fugue state. Tyler Durden is my hallucination.”(Palahniuk, 168) This proves that the narrator is struggling through a mental problem and he can’t control himself from doing all the mad stuff. The narrator can’t sleep due to his mental illness; he keeps on talking to the other personality he has created. He has completely lost himself. Through some of these proofs we come to know that the narrator is a mad person in total.

  41. Emma Smith
    Ms Cox
    January 16, 2013
    ENG 4U1
    Atonement: “The Most” of Briony Tallis

    In his 2001 novel Atonement, Ian McEwan writes the character of Briony Tallis as a passionate, imaginative child, whose dedication for her loved ones sends her into a spiral of deceit, redemption, and forgiveness. Briony’s “most” is the idea that she cannot bring herself to embrace the truth. This will influence her to make the wrong decisions, negatively impacting herself and her family.

    Briony is unable to reveal the truth when questioned about the rape of Lola Quincey. She insists that the rape was committed by Robbie Turner, rather than Paul Marshall, due to her witnessing the fountain scene, the library scene, and also the graphic letter that Robbie addressed to Cecilia. Briony misunderstands the way that these events play out. After reading his letter, she understands that Robbie is a threat to Cecilia, that he wishes to commit atrocious sexual acts upon her, when really it is a simple note of passion between the two lovers. When witnessing the fountain scene, she believes Robbie is shaming Cecilia, forcing her to remove her clothing and submerge herself in the water as an act of punishment. During the library scene, Briony assumes that Robbie has finally gained his chance to force Cecilia into sex against her will, as they are pinned to the wall in a precarious position, of which Briony has an obstructed view. Briony’s immaturity as a young girl leaves her without the ability to separate fact from fiction, to understand that the encounters between Robbie and Cecilia were simply acts of sexual tension, rather than abusive encounters.

    At a point in the novel where an older Briony goes to visit her sister Cecilia, the true effect of her crime is finally making an impact on her character. ”Briony carried her half-smoked cigarette to the sink. She was feeling sick. She took a saucer for an ashtray from the tray rack. Her sister’s confirmation of her crime was terrible to hear. But the perspective was unfamiliar. Weak, stupid, confused, cowardly, evasive- she had hated herself for everything she had been, but she had never thought of herself as a liar” (McEwan 237). Briony misunderstands the complete effects of her crime as a young girl, until she grows older and sees how it has impacted the lives of both Cecilia and Robbie. She is in disbelief of the fact that she lied in order to get Robbie in trouble, she merely did what she thought was right.

    At the date of her crime, Briony is much too young and naive to grasp the full meaning of events, which is what prevents her from being truthful. She is not deceitful by her own command, she simply does not understand the adult content of a situation, and delivers her false information with clarity and self assuredness. When Briony accuses Robbie of the rape allegation, she seems rather adamant, almost as if she is hoping to use his arrest as a way of exacting revenge on what he has done to her sister. This could in fact be true, however she is most likely unaware of the real rapist, and would like to do what she sees as best in her eyes.

  42. Within the novel The English Patient, a character by the name of Kip is presented during the middle of the book. Kip is a Sikh who was intended to become a doctor yet as a result of his brother’s jailing, he became a soldier instead. When enlisted, Kip is instantly recognized as an ideal sapper and slowly from his mentor, he became one of the best known sappers in his division. Although many different character traits define Kip as a person such as intelligence, self-sufficiency, and courage, courage stands above the rest. The first milestone that demonstrates Kip’s courage is seen in his willingness to become a soldier considering that the calculated average life expectancy of a soldier is three hours in combat. When picked as a sapper, although he did not have to be in combat as removing mines during combat would be nearly impossible, his life expectancy would only increase to as much as three weeks. This alone depicts Kips courage as he is able to let go of the fear of death, something that is extremely difficult for most people. Dwelling deeper, Kip shows his courage in the fact that he does not hesitate to put himself within the blast range of the bomb. There is no stopping, no thinking, no pauses, he understands what he has to do and he does it despite the high possibility of his imminent death. This again portrays courage as imminent death is not an easy idea that any person can deal with, many accounts of injuries to officials are reported every year as patients are told they will die; In many patients, this causes tremendous trauma, loss of sense and loss of control as the brain literally struggles to survive. In the novel, Kip exhibits his courage against death when defusing the bomb in the pit with the assistance of liquid oxygen. Kip shows his will to put his life on the line when he talks back to Hardy telling him he will press on with the defusal, “‘Six more minutes of frost.’ ‘Come up and we’ll blow it up’ ‘No, pass me down some more oxygen’” (Ondaatje 214). This line becomes significant as it exemplifies his will and courage to continue a difficult task. Later in the novel, Hiroshima is dropped on Japan and Kip is heavily disturbed by the knowledge of the dropped bomb as depicted when he begins to lose his mind and threatens to kill the English Patient, “What was going on outside? Kip looked condemned, separated from the world, his brown face weeping…He pivots back so the rifle points at the Englishman.” (Ondaatje 283). Through this emotional turmoil about the news of the bomb, Kip is not only disturbed as the person raised with a hatred for the Americans, but also as a bomb defuser. This comes as a very hard concept for Kip to overcome as a bomb defuser as a nuclear bomb does not reach the ground, it is set off mid air; To Kip this is his match, the bomb he will never be able to triumph over; However, this also displays his courage as he is mad at the fact that he will never be able to defuse the nuclear bomb, showing he would put his life on the line to defuse the bomb had he the chance to do so, a quest that if possible, would scare even the most courageous of people. As demonstrated, it is easily deduced that above all, Kip is the most courageous not in just his job but at the core of his morale.

  43. Titles Don’t Make Leaders
    Layla El Werfalli

    In society, there is usually at least one person who never changes while everyone else does; the person to turn to when life’s problems become a labyrinth; that empowered individual that has an indirect influence on the people around them. In Fight Club, written by Chuck Palahniuk, the most empowering person is Marla Singer. By being the most empowering, Marla is presented as an ideal leader in the novel. Throughout Fight Club, the men around her begin to change and revolve their lives around Fight Club and Project Mayhem. They start committing crimes and pranks they would not have done if these two groups had not triggered their courage. After meeting Tyler and starting Fight Club, the Narrator had no need for the support groups he had once relied on to cure his insomnia. He started to skip the meetings because he was busy with the fighting and organizing of meetings. Marla, however, continues to act in the same manner from the beginning of the book right through until the end. Since she is a female, Fight Club and Project Mayhem were not options for her and did not affect her way of living. She keeps going to the support groups, stealing jeans from Laundromats and selling them for 15 dollars each, and attempting suicides in her apartment. By not changing herself, even though the people she interacts with do so, she shows that she has the strength to remain who she is and not adjust her life according to society; a crucial trait of a leader. As Marla is the one the Narrator turns to for questioning or advice, she is presented as a very reliant figure. Whenever the Narrator needs to take his mind off Tyler, he turns to Marla to talk. When in need, “Marla shows up. [They] talk about the plants” (Palahniuk 132). They go for walks in the graveyard behind the house, “on raked gravel paths through the kaleidoscope green patterns of the garden, drinking and smoking. [They] talk about her breasts. [They] talk about everything except Tyler Durden” (Palahniuk 132). Marla is always there for the Narrator when he needs someone. She also proves to be a very forgiving person. Before he discovers that he is Tyler, the Narrator constantly ignores Marla when she starts sleeping with Tyler. Marla notices this, but since she does not have anyone else, she forgives his ignorance and keeps coming to the house, despite being unwelcome by the Narrator. Also, when the Narrator thinks through everything he has learned about the true identity of Tyler Durden, he realizes that Marla is “in the middle of everything and doesn’t know it…Somebody has to tell her. Get out…Save yourself” (Palahniuk 193). He calls to meet up with her and when they meet, she confronts him for killing a man “at one of those murder mystery parties” (Palahniuk 195). Marla is ecstatic in this scene, hitting him and calling the police. However, when the Narrator is about to shoot himself, Marla proclaims, “It’s not love or anything…but I think I like you, too” and that she knows the difference between Tyler and the Narrator (Palahniuk 205). Even after seeing the Narrator murder Patrick Madden, the mayor’s special envoy on recycling, she sees past his action, acknowledges that he was not fully in control of his actions, and forgives him. Forgiveness is an attribute that makes Marla an excellent leader. The characteristics Marla presents throughout Fight Club, such strength, reliability, and forgiveness, prove her to be the most empowering leader in the book. Sometimes, the most unexpected people turn out to be the greatest leaders in society.

  44. Steven Eyman
    The narrator from Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club is a very important character with many different characteristics which define him throughout the novel and make him the most interesting character. Among other things, the narrator is the most resilient and committed character in the novel. His ability to always fight back and never lose hope makes Fight Club the page turner it is. His most important struggle is his fight against Tyler and not giving up control of his life. “Tyler says I’m nowhere near hitting bottom, yet. And if I don’t fall all the way, I can’t be saved.” (Palahnuik, 71). Tyler burns his hand with lye; uses his body to achieve his own goals; and gives him “homework” with the aim of destroying his life. The narrator even signs up to fight every man in a chapter of fight club one after another so that his body would be too injured for Tyler to cause more harm. Even after all of this emotional and physical punishment the narrator continues to fight Tyler and fight to protect Marla. “For years now, I’ve wanted to sleep. The sort of slipping off, the giving up, the falling part of sleep. Now sleeping is the last thing I want to do.” (Palahnuik, 181). The narrator also shows his resilience through his daily actions. He continually expresses how much he hates his job; he fights every Saturday night with Tyler and his fight club; and he is unable to sleep for entire weeks at a time. Even with all of this struggle he still manages to go to work every day and even works two different jobs as well as fight club tasks. No matter how bad he feels he still goes on with his life; working towards a purpose he does not understand. Finally, after all of his hardships and struggle, when it would have been easier to just give up and let Tyler win the narrator continues fighting. “This is like a total epiphany moment for me. I’m not killing myself, I yell. I’m killing Tyler.” (Palahnuik, 205). As he sits in the building being held captive by his own alter ego, he realizes what he has to do and decides to shoot himself; killing the idea of Tyler Durden and releasing him from his torment. This again proves to demonstrate the narrator’s resilience as we learn that he is not dead and still lives even after shooting himself through the cheek. The narrator takes more punishment and trauma than most human beings can take and he still manages to survive. The narrator is the most resilient character in the entire novel which is very important to adding more interest to the novel. His struggle causes the reader to ponder what will happen to him next and drives them to continue reading to find out what his limit really is. He may not be the most courageous or honourable or loyal character in the novel, but he definitely takes the most abuse and still manages to continue fighting.

  45. Darkness as my Most Greatest Regret

    Regret plays a great theme in Michael Ondaatje’s novel, The English Patient. Memories, or regrets, haunt the characters living in the Italian villa. However, of these four haunted souls, it is Kip whose regret is the greatest after struggling to ‘keep under’ or ‘forget’ his own darkness – his skin. Kip had his life laid out for him: his brother was to become a soldier and he a doctor. This life plan goes to waste when Kip’s brother’s hate for the West stops him from becoming a soldier, leaving the opening for Kip. It is when he gets a job as a sapper that he completely submerges himself in the English lifestyle, quickly “beginning to love the English” (Ondaatje 190). Throughout his entire time working as a bomb defuser in England, Kip never truly fit in. The soldiers hesitate to call him ‘Sir’ (Ondaatje 213) and he was always aware of his contrasting race. Despite all this, and despite his brother’s warnings against the Western world, Kip finds no problem being there. He goes as far as not caring about his family back home when introduced to this new world.
    During his time in the Italian villa, Kip begins to fall in love with Hana, submerging himself even deeper within the Western world. At one point, he fears becoming “pregnant with her” (Ondaatje 114). Hana tells him “I’m so happy with you. To be with you like this” (Ondaatje 129). In another discussion between the two, Hana asks Kip what he hates the most. He responds, “Ownership… When you leave me, forget me” (Ondaatje 152). Kip does precisely the opposite, which leads to his greatest regret.
    It is when the news of the Hiroshima bomb reaches Kip that his view on the Western world changes almost instantaneously. It is at this point that his struggle to forget his own race is forgotten. He embraces it completely and shrugs off any notion of the English or West. He goes from ‘Kip’ back to Kirpal Singh. He says, “My brother told me. Never turn your back on Europe… Never trust Europeans, he said. Never shake hands with them… What have I been doing these last few years? Cutting away, defusing, limbs of evil. For what? For this to happen?” (Ondaatje 284-285). The bombing of Hiroshima takes Kip back to his roots; he sees Asia as one body and the West as another. In his mind, every part of the West is to blame, including Hana, Caravaggio, and the English Patient. He decides to leave the villa, as well as his relationship with Hana, with barely a parting word. It is his regret of embracing the Western lifestyle that drives him to leave as quickly as possible, leaving behind all that would remind him of his time there.
    For a while, it seems as though Kip adheres to this lifestyle change with no regrets. The reader finds at the end of the novel that Kirpal becomes a doctor in India as well as a father of two, apparently forgetting Hana. This doubt is quickly removed, as Kip has “urges to talk with her during a meal and return to that stage they were most intimate at in the tent or in the English patient’s room” (Ondaatje 301). Kip, still thinking about her after beginning his new lifestyle, evidently shows his regret in leaving her and thereby breaks his own rule of “When you leave me, forget me” (Ondaatje 152). At the end of the novel, Ondaatje writes, “Her [Hana] shoulder touches the edge of a cupboard and a glass dislodges. Kirpal’s left hand swoops down and catches the dropped fork an inch from the floor” (Ondaatje 302). This love that Kirpal abandons in his blind rage towards the West is his greatest regret, as after all the time passed he is still synchronised with Hana, and their love transcends any barriers of geography or time.

  46. The Fruitless Search for Identity
    In Chuck Palaniuk’s Fight Club, there is a man. This man is no one special. What this man has done is unimportant. He is alone, dying, and unwanted. The only family he has will not return his calls. All he can do is cry… In his distress, he found a group created by Tyler Durden named (appropriately) “Fight Club”. Men fought in a ring, punching each other out until one person went limp or said “stop”. Everyone knew what the fighting is for, but no one wants to admit it. The fighting is a mask for real problems; they indirectly fought their own problems in life they didn’t have the courage or intelligence to face. The people in fight club are all rejects, stupid, boring, ugly, apathetic, incompetent, unfulfilled and purposeless. Because they are purposeless, they are all the angriest individuals on the planet. They are angry at the world, for creating this unfair consumerist society, but who the people of fight club are angriest, at are themselves for becoming a materialistic shell of what they could/should be.
    Fight Club gives the man a sense of belonging because he is wanted, for who he is, for the first time in his life: “We want you, not your money” (Palaniuk 143). He loves this society because it saves him from his despair. The man wants to do more for Tyler Durden because to him, Tyler is the father figure he never had. Tyler gives him the solution to a problem he could not identify: “You have a class of young strong men and women, and they want to give their lives to something. Advertising has these people chasing cars and clothes they don’t need. Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don’t really need” (Palaniuk 149). He stays on Tyler’s doorstep for 3 days without food, and is allowed to participate in a project that may save him from his emasculation.
    He is taught how to do menial tasks, something so simple a monkey could be trained to accomplish, and collectively it became necessary for the success of the project that Tyler creates. And just as the man is starting to see the fruits of his labor, the man is killed in a misunderstanding. He dies trying to find something greater than himself, never really understanding anything: “blind from the stagelights and deaf from the feedback” (Palaniuk 177)
    He was a former bodybuilder, wrestler, the owner of a gym, and has been married three times. He has “done product endorsements…. The whole how-to program about expanding your chest was practically his invention” (Palaniuk 21). He used Dianabol (an anabolic steroid), and Wistrol (another anabolic steroid; often used on racehorses for its potency) to pump his body up, and shred his body fat down to two percent. It is only irony that could describe the situation. What made him happy is the very thing that would take his livelihood. His body reacted to the anabolic steroid abuse in a violent manner. The constant stimulation of testosterone in his testes, combined with an undescended testicle created a malignant tumor; testicular cancer. His testicles were removed but due to the hormone replacement therapy, he developed gynecomastia. Because of his cancer, he loses all of his money because of the costs of treatment, and his two grown kids will not return his calls. He is one of the most emasculated men to ever exist. Ironically, the emasculation he tries to keep under is in reality his most prized possession, because it enabled him to find something he really cared about; free from consumerist advertisement: “he was the warm center of life that everyone crowded around” (Palaniuk 177). No one cared about him when he lived, but only when he died. Who is he? He is forty-eight years old. He was a part of fight club, and Project Mayhem. His name is Robert Paulson.

  47. Abdullah Usman
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG 4U- 04
    Jan 18, 2013
    The Dependency on Dependence
    ‘Fight Club’ is a novel based on how modern life is seemingly fulfilling and pleasant, but in fact, is a nightmare for the average people, who in Tyler’s words are “God’s middle Children” (Palahniuk 141). The story demonstrates people’s want for chaos out of order due to being ignored and set aside, be it by their own fathers (such as the Narrator), or by God and society as a whole (such as the common middle or low class workers). The Narrator is one of these people, who feels useless and disregarded, and hence has an extremely difficult time adjusting to his dreary life and the unfair world. Thus, he cannot survive in this world alone, causing the Narrator to be the character who is the most dependant on other characters in ‘Fight Club’. Throughout the novel, the Narrator feels the need to find guidance, peace and satisfaction through latching on to others around him. His connection with the support groups is a major illustration of this point. To cure his insomnia, the Narrator has to find peace and gratification within himself, which he does by surrounding himself by people who are in pain and/or dying. “Walking home after a support group, I felt more alive than I’d ever felt. I wasn’t host to cancer or blood parasites; I was the little warm center that the life of the world crowded around” (Palahniuk 22). He receives satisfaction in his life by crying and losing hope along with people who are suffering from diseases and are more misfortunate than him, but then feeling important and good about himself afterwards since his life, unlike the support group members, is not engulfed in severe agony. The Narrator is dependant on other people’s sufferings just to fulfill a basic aspect of his life; peace and sleep. Another very clear demonstration of the Narrator’s dependency on others is his relationship with Tyler Durden. Even though Tyler is physically the same person as him, the Narrator develops a split personality resulting in Tyler, whom he looks up to as a mentor and source for guidance. After not finding a leadership figure that will help him vent his frustration and achieve his desire for chaos, the Narrator’s mind merely creates another being for him to hinge on to. By following Tyler’s ways, the Narrator’s life starts to obtain importance and purpose. Furthermore, he acquires the attention that he had longed for his entire life through Tyler. Tyler shows him how to live life freely, how to hit bottom and survive in this deceptive world, and of course, spread anarchy as a form of rebellion by means of fight clubs and Project Mayhem. The Narrator’s reliance on Tyler goes to such an extent that when Tyler suddenly disappears, the Narrator’s life starts collapsing and he feels ruined. He says, “I am Joe’s Broken Heart because Tyler’s dumped me. Because my father dumped me. Oh I could on and on” (Palahniuk 134). After Tyler leaves him, the Narrator starts deeming his self-worthless again, and even goes on to criticize and stop the chaos that he wishfully spread alongside Tyler, the same chaos which filled the hole in his ignored existence. Therefore, the Narrator is indeed the character who is the most dependent on others in the novel. He is a person who struggles to persist without having someone to feed off of or follow. This is the Narrator’s way of coping with a world that treats him with no kindness and pays him no attention.

  48. Paradox of Life
    Palahniuk sets the tone for his novel, “Fight Club”, in the first sentence: “Tyler’s pushing a gun in my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die”(Palahniuk 11). The underlying theme of Fight Club is the paradox that in order to really start living life – that is, living life to the fullest — you need to experience “the amazing miracle of death”( Palahniuk 146). Thus, the “dark I have always struggled to keep under”(Beckett 1), is equivalent to the fear of death Tyler speaks of, which in reality only serves to impede the most liberating and profound experience known to mankind — enlightenment. The death that Tyler refers to is not the physical death, but rather a figurative death. In fact, Tyler often encourages the narrator to strive after a figurative death by “hitting bottom” (Palahniuk 70). Deep down, the narrator recognizes how much he yearns to be free from his mundane life. In fact, his desire of liberation from his constrained life is so intense, that he subconsciously creates an alter ego.)Tyler justifies the explosion when he says, “‘I’m breaking [your] attachment to physical power and possessions…because only through destroying [yourself] can [you] discover the great power of [your] spirit’” (Palahniuk 110). The narrator’s attachment to physical possessions is manifested through his identification with his furniture collection: “I loved that condo…That was my whole life. Everything, the lamps, the chairs, the rugs were me…It was me that blew up”(Palahniuk 110-1). Living in a consumerist society, the narrator derives a sense of self from material possessions; however, it is important to realize that physical power and possessions are only temporary. In fact, it is exactly this false self-identification with impermanent things which prevents us from accessing our true self – the spirit. Thus, Tyler continually tries to demolish the narrator’s mind-made sense of self throughout the novel, by encouraging him to hit bottom. He states, “’It is only after you’ve lost everything…that you’re free to do anything’”(Palahniuk 70). According to Tyler, you can only achieve absolute freedom after dissolving who you think you are. Therefore, our fear of death is what prevents us from living life to the fullest . Paradoxically, when you say “yes” to that death, you realize that the mind-made sense of self has obscured the truth of who you truly are. By letting go of your false self, you become aware of the great power of the spirit, which is the true essence of your being.

  49. Marty-O

    Ms Cox

    ENG 4U1-04

    January 18, 2013

    Briony’s Guilt Trip; Nursing her Lies

    In McEwan’s novel Atonement many themes are present. One of the most significant is being the protagonists’ Briony Tallis’ guilt. Briony is a child who has no ability to handle anything that does not fit into her perception or understanding which shows her lack of maturity: “How guilt refined the methods of self-torture, threading the beads of detail into an eternal loop, a rosary to be fingered for a lifetime” (McEwan 162).
    The guilt Briony has felt has lead to a lifetime of dedication to achieving forgiveness. Briony finally realizes the full extent of the damage she has done to Cecilia and Robbie and decides to take up nursing. To her, nursing is the initial step to achieve atonement. Nursing removes her from the world of writing, and instead puts her in workplace that leaves no time for thought or reflection – which are the things she now wants to avoid most. “She emptied and sluiced the bedpans, swept and polished floors, made cocoa and Bovril, fetched and carried — and was delivered from introspection” (McEwan 276).
    Briony is conscious of the fact that she is seeking her atonement, through forgetting. In the end her guilt remains with her and no amount of hard work will ever make it disappear. Briony tries to reconcile with Cecilia as she promises to clear Robbie’s name. This is the sort of act that might lead to forgiveness. The sad reality of Atonement is that Briony is too late. Robbie and Cecilia both perish in the war and her account on visiting their imaginary home afterwards is Briony’s attempt at atonement. For the rest of her life Briony must live with the knowledge that she has no way of receiving forgiveness from either Robbie or Cecilia. She alienates herself so much from her family and from a life she so dearly wanted to live that she must abandon her already broken family as Cecilia did; while turning to a life of nursing – a pastime she had never taken into consideration before. The fact that Briony had tried so desperately to achieve her atonement is her downfall. She alienates herself from the life she wanted to live. Her guilt is the reason why she must now live the lonely life she will be subjected too.
    It is revealed towards the end of the novel that Briony is the book’s writer. She states the following: “I like to think that it isn’t weakness or evasion, but a final act of kindness, a stand against oblivion and despair, to let my lovers live and to unite them in the end. I gave them happiness, but not so self-serving as to let them forgive me” (McEwan 351). Knowing this, she creates an alternative ending for a new life after the war for the couple. When the reader further looks into Briony’s character her decision to become a nurse is a clear vain attempt to mask her culpability. Nothing she will accomplish can undo her past mistakes. Thus, Briony experiences the most guilt in this novel, which creates an exhilarating memoir with the wonder of what the true reality is.

  50. Blog Assignment

    In the novel Fight Club, the brutal act of violence occurs commonly as a way to find meaning and develop a sense of reality, one that helps balance out the pain of everyday life, and put it into perspective. Because Tyler is the one who created Fight Club and appears stronger in the novel than the narrator, it is easy to assume that he is the most violent character. Although Tyler’s actions make the reader feel that he is more violent, through thoughtful examination, Tyler’s conscious self, the narrator, is actually the more violent one.
    Tyler Durden, the creator of Fight Club and the sub conscience of the narrator is portrayed to be the most outrageous and violent character in the novel although, there is one beating at fight club that stands out more than the others and this fight is between the narrator and new- timer, Angel face. The narrator has a buildup of anger and frustration and brutally beats this young man until his face is literally unrecognizable. “I held the face of mister angel like a baby or a football in the crook of my arm and bashed him with my knuckles, bashed him until his teeth broke through his lips. Bashed him with my elbow after that until he fell through my arms into a heap at my feet” (Palahniuk124). This fight was the most horrific of them all in fight club and because of this I feel that the narrator is capable of much more violence than the rest.
    The second scenario in the novel which made me believe the narrator is the most violent character is when he and his boss are in his office and he begins to beat himself up. “This isn’t such a hard punch. I punch myself again. It just looks so good, all the blood, but I throw myself back against the wall to make a terrible noise and break the painting that hangs there”(Paulahniuk114). In this scene the narrator is beating himself up and crying for help to make the situation look like his boss is really the one who is attacking him. The fact that the narrator is capable of harming himself in such a brutal manor is the main reason I feel he is the most violent character of them all. Every member of fight club is capable of hurting another person and feeling no shame in it, but no character of fight club other than the narrator has the ability to cause such trauma to their selves.
    Although is it Tyler who is deemed as the most violent and outrageous character due to his creation of fight club and project mayhem, it is clear through the brutal beating of Angel face and himself actions that the narrator is the character who is capable of the most violence.

  51. The True Meaning Of Power
    Power is a re-occurring theme throughout Palahniuk’s novel, Fight Club. As the novel progresses it becomes evident that the only powerful and influential character is Tyler Durden. Power is assigned to those who have been able to influence others into changing their beliefs. People look up to him as a beacon of hope because he is able to give others a reason to live. Tyler refers to the men and women of our current generation as “God’s middle children” (Palahniuk 141) because they feel a sense of not belonging or amounting to anything remarkable in life. Tyler is a powerful man because he has a different outlook on life and is very influential; which ultimately leads to him controlling others.
    Tyler is powerful because unlike others, he is a free man. He allowed himself to let go and hit rock bottom. “It’s only once you’ve lost everything that you are free to do anything” (Palahnuik 70). There is an insignificant differences between hope and fantasy. Tyler does not believe in hope because hope is something a child would believe in. Instead he chooses to face reality and deal with all the good and bad that comes with life. Hitting rock bottom, loosing all hope and trying not to be unique or special rids him of all competition and judgement from others. This allows Tyler to do anything he wants because he has nothing to loose. The people in Fight Club look at Tyler as a mentor to guide them because they believe he has a firm grasp of how life should be. Tyler’s attitude and values on life have influenced others to join him and his beliefs. So he creates a group called “Fight Club” in order to unite the men who feel like they have no reason to live.
    Since Tyler is able to influence others on how they should live, he is able to control them as well. He creates a club that was once part of something special and turns it into an organized criminal gang called “Project Mayhem”. He has influenced others into believing that media is what makes our generation of men/woman useless and purposeless. “Advertising has these people chasing cars and clothes they don’t need. Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don’t need” (Palahniuk 149). He poisons the minds of others to destroy corporate companies that have any association with the media. He took his values on life and used them to influence others to give them a reason on why their life turned out the way it did. Tyler has essentially created his own army made up of average citizens. He has the control of over a thousand men who are willing to do whatever he commands.
    In the end we can conclude that Tyler Durden is the most powerful character in Fight Club. This is because he is able to free himself by hitting rock bottom and succeeds in influencing others on how they should live. He gains control of hundreds of people and was able to command them into committing crimes against society. This is a prime example of someone who is truly powerful.

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