Marla Singer

Marla is a young woman already disillusioned with life. She smokes, she steals laundry, she crosses the street without looking both ways. In short, she has no care for herself, and she never seems truly fulfilled. She does not get the form of healing that the Narrator does at the support groups, and even when having sex, she isn't really happy. Her main role in the movie is that of catalyst; she is the reason that the Narrator becomes unsatisfied with his support groups and seeks catharsis from Fight Club.

Marla is, unfortunately, badly used by the Narrator. He resents her from the first time he saw her, blaming her for being a support group "tourist." However, not only is he doing the same thing, Marla at least uses her real name in the groups. He calls her and then hangs up on her when his condo blows up, and he ignores her admitted "cry for help" when she tries to commit suicide. He rejects her and the help she offers him because she is a reflection of himself, one that he doesn't like. He'd rather be like Tyler.

Marla truly loves the Narrator. He is the one she calls when she's dying and when she thinks she has breast cancer. She continues sleeping with him despite the fact that he constantly psychologically abuses her. She is moved when he admits that he "likes" her, and she holds his hand as skyscrapers fall around them. Sadly, he doesn't seem to return her love. He resents her presence, constantly feeling that she is an intruder. First she invades "his" support groups, then his heart chakra, and then his life with Tyler. He is attracted to her, but he doesn't appear to have any real affection for her. Even at the end of the movie, he uses her; after all, whatever happens to him after the last scene, whether it be jail or an insane asylum, will leave her alone again.

James isn't too fond of Marla:

"You are right.  Marla is the most tragic figure in this film.  But she is so very clever.  Not clever enough to crack Tyler [Durden]'s code, though;  but, Marla is crafty.  When they first meet and the narrator follows her to the thrift store where she sells clothes, she is already testing him.  There are numerous innuendoes.  She grabs his nuts when he almost exposes her thievery (or does she step on his foot).  Not only does this shut him up, but she also gets to size him up right off the bat.  They are fighting over custody of the help groups when they get to the most desirable group: bowel cancer.  Marla quips, "That's your favorite too?  Tried to slip it by me, eh?"

"When she breaks down and calls the narrator during 'one of those cry for help things' she says: "I took what was left of the bottle" even though you, the viewer, see at least two pills unswallowed on the [nightstand].

"When she calls the narrator over again becuase her 'tit's rotting off' from breast cancer, she interrupts and complicates his most stressful moment in his career.  She's like a relapsing disease symptom or a nagging mother -- appearing at the worst possible moment of crises.  This last doctor visit by him covers every angle she has left to seduce him.  1) He feels her for lumps which she hopes will get him off and rekindle their sexual relationship.  Or 2)The romantic moment of him playing doctor will re-enact their first night together of sexual union.  Or 3)She is desparate and plays upon his weakness for terminal diseases to get him to come visit her.  "FEEL ANYTHING?"  "No." "MAKE SURE."
"Did you notice at the end when the narrator coerces Marla onto a bus that she is subdued by silhouettes of men as the bus pulls away?   And hey, Singer is slang for informant; no wonder Tyler wanted her out of the picture.  One other question: Why does she live in apartment 513 with the 3 missing?  Does anyone know the signifance of this number?  Because, I know what it is."

Togemon, on the other hand, does not. Oh well.

Kevin noticed that "Marla writes her phone number on the back of the Narrator's hand, outside of the pawn shop... but afterwards, when his apartment has been blown up, he finds a scrap of paper that says 'Marla 555-0134'."

My first theory was that the Narrator copied the number down later, but it's extremely girly handwriting, even for him. Anyone else have a feasible theory of where the number came from, or its significance?

Lorraine had some very deep thoughts on the nature of our trio's relationship:

"Marla is the nihilistic sex interest. She is a masculine female in that she is quite dominant and is therefore the root of the confusion the modern man feels -- the dominant female.

"However, Tyler struggles to be more dominant than Marla. In his own words "Don't call this love... This isn't about love as in caring. This is about property, as in owning." This is why she is a sex interest rather than a love interest.

"Even as he is rebelling against a consumer culture, Jack/Tyler wants to possess Marla. Without Marla, he has nothing, and this is the root of his confusion and therefore hate -- he wants to have nothing so he can hit bottom and make his life better, yet he wants to own Marla so he can be dominant over her.

"This explains why Jack never sees Marla and Tyler in the same room together. When Jack is himself and not Tyler, he cannot exercise the 'Tyler powers' of dominance, etc over Marla, so he can only be himself. This lack of seeing Marla and Tyler together also goes back to Jack's childhood when his parents did the same. This is because in this comparison of family, Tyler is a father 'God-figure' (who rejects Jack just like his own father did and how he believes God has) and Marla represents Jack's own mother in a kind of Oedipus complex. Repulsed by these incestuous feelings, Jack emotionally abuses Marla because of how he feels. Remember, it is always Tyler having sex with Marla -- not Jack. Jack just feels the urges and anger for having them because he is attracted to her. Not to mention that Marla is the symbol of femininity, a side that Tyler and Jack are trying to reject. "We are a generation of men raised by women. And I'm wondering if another woman is what we need." This is not a homosexual tendency as homosexuality is often viewed as effeminate; this is another call to arms -- one for male liberation."