Paper Street Soap Co.
Like all successful businesses, the Paper Street Soap Co. the economic arm of Tyler Durden’s operation—understands the appeal of its product. The inherent appeal of anything handmade, the extravagance and sexuality offered by foamy soap, the promise of cleanliness and its attendant societal benefits; all these reasons help explain why department stores are willing to pay twenty dollars a bar for Tyler’s soap The fact that, by raiding the liposuction clinic for the raw material of their soap, they are in effect “selling rich women their own fat asses back to them” is an irony not lost on the narrator. Indeed, it is part of the subversion of fight club and Project Mayhem that they are only too willing to use the appeal of the commodity against the very people who so highly value material wealth.
The proceeds from the Paper Street Soap Co. go directly into funding Project Mayhem’s fight against “the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions.” As a commodity, then, soap becomes a weapon against itself, a part of the fight against commodification. Here we reach perhaps the most important soap mythology of Fight Club: soap as a weapon of subversion.
“You know, with enough soap one could blow up just about anything,” Tyler tells the narrator as they prepare to render the stolen fat from the liposuction clinic. Glycerin, it turns out, is a key byproduct of the soap-making process, separating from the tallow as it hardens. Usually this glycerin is stirred back into the mixture, thus making a glycerin soap. As Tyler points out, however, this layer of glycerin can be skimmed off and used for an altogether different purpose.
Violence being a central characteristic of both fight club and Project Mayhem, the anarcho-revolutionary spirit of Tyler’s scheme is reflected in soap, which is, by a few alchemical steps, the physical instantiation of the cleansing fire that he sees as a type of salvation. In this case, the bombs planted at various buildings around the city are meant to destroy the credit record, thereby theoretically putting every-one on the same economic playing field.