The young men realize the contentment of human affection and successfully break free from societal pressures and encounter reality. Although the narrator attempts to find his identity at fight club, he finally finds himself with the help of the only female character in the novel, Marla Singer. Jesse Kavaldo cleverly points out that “the narrator has to look past Tyler Durden’s allure to find her” and “the desire to destroy himself is rendered another kind of fiction, replaced by his desire for Marla” (8). Because Tyler is actually the narrator’s alter-ego, Marla is the only individual that develops a relationship with the narrator. Furthermore, her words telling him that “[he] is Tyler Durdenâ€¦everybody knows [him as] Tyler Durden” provided as proof to the narrator that he was Tyler; this represents Marla’s affection that helped the narrator grasp reality (Fight 172). The narrator later asks Marla to keep him awake to prevent Tyler from committing dangerous crimes, which also represents the mutual trust they have for one another. Marla also becomes the only person that “know[s] the difference” between Tyler and the narrator, and they both set out in attempt to establish their own genuine reality (Fight 205). Similarly, Victor learns that genuine human affection enables him to grasp his identity from the people closest to him; Denny and Paige Marshall. Palahniuk himself points out that his books are “about a lonely person looking for some way to connect with other people” (qtd. in Kavaldo 6), and he especially emphasizes Victor’s transformation caused by his friendship with Denny in Choke. Although Denny is described by Victor as caring and dependent with “such an addictive personality”, Denny becomes Victor’s wake-up call to encounter reality more directly (Choke 189). Denny starts to collect rocks to symbolize days of his sobriety; however, these rocks symbolize so much more. These “rocks symbolize the concrete reality that is noticeably absent from these character’s lives”, and also symbolize hope (Blazer 154). The novel ends as Victor explains how he’s going “to build a world out of rocks”, implying that each ‘rock of hope’ adds to a bright future (Choke 292). Victor later describes how Denny’s “skinny arms look big around” and how “his pinched shoulders spread wide” because “he’s having to lift the stones a little higherâ€¦he’s having to be stronger”, when he realizes that Denny has slowly found reality and has made more progress than him (Choke 220). As Denny kindly reaches out for Victor and invites him to join the rock-stacking, Victor finally reaches the ultimate enlightenment that “[he’s] not going to do [the] kind of shit [such as] choking in restaurants, fooling people,â€¦sleeping around, [and] casual sex” (Choke 239). Paige Marshall, Victor’s love interest, has a mental condition where she doesn’t fully understand her identity. “Victor and Paige encounter the reality of each other and immediately decide to invent something better” and “join Denny’s endeavor in an attempt to reverse the ruinous trajectory of their stories psyches” (Blazer 155). In the last scene of the novel, Paige asks Victor to take off her hospital bracelet, which symbolizes the eradication of identity decided by society. After the bracelet is taken off, “Paige and [Victor] just look[s] at each other, at who each other is for real”, and they are successfully able to escape the hyperrealistic society by their genuine relationship (Choke 292). Victor’s development of relationships with Denny and Paige enables him to “understand that only the human warmth of lasting relationships will provide him the peace he seeks” (Scott Yarbrough).
Although Palahniuk’s works are well-known for its “bizarre premises,â€¦black humor and cynical viewpoint”, they have the overarching idea of love and need for affection (“Chuck 1962”). The hyperrealistic society that oppresses individuality and homogenizes individuals fails to allow individuals to have identities. Without identities, the protagonists fail to understand their purpose in life and to recognize their full potential. The protagonists attempt to escape the hyperrealistic society by exposing themselves to death, and they realize that only genuine relationships can enable them to achieve their real identities. Because Palahniuk is part of the Cacophony Society, a group of nihilists that have multiple bizarre events across the nation, many critics tend to automatically assume his novels resemble his views and opinions towards society. Although he denounces the materialistic, hyperrealistic culture, he offers affection as a solution to escape such a society in both novels.