Fight Club (spoilers)

I hadn’t watched the movie in a while so I thought to watch it again. If you haven’t seen the movie, please move to another thread because I don’t want to spoil it for you!

I understand the “Narrator” (Edward Norton) and Tyler Durden are one and the same. What I don’t understand is how we and those in the presence of the Narrator view his interactions.

  • When Narrator and Tyler Durden are in the same frame and Tyler is speaking: Is Narrator speaking through Tyler and Narrator disappears? Or does Narrator continue speaking (Tyler’s words)

  • The one scene I’m trying to wrap my head around is the scene where Narrator, Tyler and the two grunts are in the car. Tyler and Narrator have a heated conversation. How is this viewed by the two grunts? Does it look like he’s having some type of crazy conversation with himself?

You remember when he fights Tyler outside the bar? And remember when he beats himself up on the job? I those two would have looked the same to anyone outside his mind. I haven’t seen it in a while, but I don’t think you can hear anything Tyler says during the job one. But there are also times in the film where Tyler talks to other people, right? So the Narrator has to be doing the talking then.

So it would seem it is not consistent. Sometimes Tyler makes the Narrator say things. Other times, he’s just a voice in his head.

Oh, I just thought of a third possibility: the Narrator may be completely silent during that scene you mention, and both characters are only arguing in his head. It’s not necessary, since his followers know he’s crazy anyway (from the fight outside the bar), but it’s possible.

I got the feeling that most of the time, the Narrator was doing both sides of the conversation without realizing it.

As for the car scene, they’re probably a.) Used to seeing this and b.) Pretty brainwashed by this point. They’ve already seen him react to events as his narrator self with indignation(the building “happy face” on TV, the death of Bob) even though in some cases he was there when the events happened as Tyler. They probably see these shifts as some kind of test.

other points:

  • The 1st call he makes to Tyler after his apt blows up. Is he just picking up the phone, dialing some number and pretending to call his alter ego?

  • Did he make up the whole bit about Tyler working as a movie projector? I tend to think that all the details we hear about Tyler are things Narrator made up to reinforce his existence.

I started watching it again and Narrator says the following at a hospital scene where he’s getting treated:

“Sometimes Tyler spoke for me - (Tyler) fell down some stairs (Narrator) I fell down some stairs”

this jives with what someone above suggested.

Tyler explains that at the end. The Narrator held all of those jobs at various times because of his insomnia. He needed something to do in the middle of the night and worked as a projector, a waiter, something else.

Oh snap, you’re right, this movie rocks.

That sounds right (testing the grunts) there was one or two times where Narrator tried to stop something and the grunts said “You said you’d say that” which leads me to believe that when Tyler gave them directions he told them to move forward with the plan even if he told them to stop.

Moving to Cafe Society

Ellen Cherry
MPSIMS Moderator

The guys in the car clearly respond as though they are thinking he’s talking to them, but they also get confused. They think everything he says is some kind of genius parable that they are not meant to understand and do not need to understand. Remember, he instilled in them a lack of questioning from the beginning.

Great thread idea, I’ve wondered this a lot myself. I think as others have pointed out it was a mix. Those scenes where you see Edward Norton saying what Tyler had been saying were pretty creepy (like that sort of flashback scene where he’s realizing).

I wondered that too, because he hears back from…himself, like Tyler says he never answers his phone and always *69s him. I figured that could have been just a call in his head.

Well, Norton says to Pitt, “You have all those jobs…” and Pitt goes, “YOU have jobs because you can’t sleep.” Maybe he was doing those on his own as the Tyler character was coming together.

Yeah…that makes sense.

Also, we had a thread about what the narrator’s name really was. People were wondering–was he really Tyler Durden or did he have his own name beforehand. This makes me wonder because it’s like, was he Tyler or was Tyler this guy who is totally created. Sorry, I’m a bit out of it right now, but I hope that made sense.

Of course it was a mix of the two different “styles”, it was explicitly statedonce the narrator realized Tyler was made-up in the hotel room.

I pretty much assumed most of that dialog (including the phone call) was happening in his head only. But it could also make sense if he was doing both parts out loud, and just looking crazy.

What I don’t understand is the gun scene at the very end: how could the bullet kill Tyler without killing The Narrator at the same time?

Because he basically blew out his cheek. The bullet came out under his mandible. It wasn’t a killing blow, it was the mental decision to kill Tyler that was relevant. And maybe it didn’t work because the film ends there.

Just popped in to say that despite what Mr. Palahniuk and Mr. Fincher think, I think the ending of the novel is FAR FAR superior to the way the film ended.

I think the film shows that it works, as we see Tyler collapsing with smoke coming out the back of his head. But yeah, it was the force of will that killed him, rather than the actual physical wound.

I’ve seen the movie, but never read the novel – could someone spoil the end of the novel for me?


There is no happy reconciliation with Marla. Tyler shoots himself, the buildings blow up, and he is arrested. In the last chapter we learn that he has been placed in some kind of mental health facility. He is doped up and in a wheelchair much of the time, and really has little idea what is happening, but every once in a while, one of the orderlies or a maintenance technician or groundskeeper will get near enough to him to whisper “Don’t worry, Mr. Durden. Everything is still going exactly according to plan.”

The obvious implication being that Tyler has outsmarted the Narrator yet again, that even his lucid realization of his schizoid personality was planned and allowed to happen, and that the “killing” of Tyler served a larger purpose and was likely not final.

It’s much more complex, thoughtful and provocative than the happy Hollywood schlock that Fincher & Palahniuk foisted on the movie-going public, but I admit it’s hard to see a Hollywood mega-studio making and releasing a movie where the anarchist wins in the end. I mean, how would that serve their goals?

IIRC, the Narrator (I always called him Jack, named after the scene where he’s reading about Jack’s colon and Jack’s appendix… I may have read someone else do this first, and just adopted it) goes off to a mental institution, but he believes the doctors in the white coats are angels and that he’s in heaven. I believe Marla also visits him in heaven.

And in the movie, Tyler says in the hotel room that sometimes Jack is Tyler, and sometimes Jack’s still Jack. I always assumed that everything either persona said was actually said out loud by Jack, but that he had different mannerisms and a different aura about him depending on who he was at any given point. Am I making sense? I hope so, but either way, the first sentence in this paragraph answers some questions posed in this thread, I believe.

ETA: Whoops. Missed out on being the first to explain this. And I did a much worse job. :frowning:

Narrator and Marla watching the buildings come down is a happy ending?

I thought it was more theatrical at any rate.

Didn’t the buildings not blow up in the book? I thought the climax actually took place in one of the rigged buildings and Jack/Tyler realizes that he screwed up the bomb.