The Narrator

The Narrator of 'Fight Club' is an unnamed "thirty-year-old boy" who works in the recall division of the Federated Motor Corporation. He is a yuppie, one who defines himself through his possessions and meekly lets his boss-- and everyone else-- walk all over him. He is also a chronic insomniac who is constantly seeking a cure.

While a pitiful character, the Narrator is not a nice person. Of course, he is extremely psychologically disturbed, but he is also essentially weak and seeks validation through others' opinions of him. Besides this, he is a liar. He goes to support groups and pretends to be suffering in order to get attention; he gets his boss fired by falsely accusing him of abuse; he constantly plays Marla's emotions. His only strength comes from deceiving those who are at a disadvantage to him. However, he lacks real control, even over his own actions. The Narrator cannot even control his own imaginary friend. Nevertheless, the Narrator somehow ends up being a sympathetic character, perhaps because the viewers see themselves in him.


The Narrator's Names

Although the Narrator's real name is never given in the movie, he has a wealth of false names, a different one for each of the support groups he joins. In the testicular cancer group "Remaining Men Together", he goes by the name Cornelius, and in the brain parasites group, his name is Rupert. Other names include Travis ("Free and Clear," the tuberculosis group), and Lenny ("Hope," the sickle cell group). His lack of a name is emphasized when Marla asks for one to go with his phone number, and his reply is cut off by a passing truck. Later in the movie, the Narrator often quotes from the articles he found in the old house: "I am Jack's broken heart," etc. This leads to his being called Jack quite often, although no one in the movie addresses him as such. As it turns out, the name he truly goes by is Tyler Durden.

So what is the Narrator's real name? In all likelihood, it is not any of the names he gives to the support groups. It doesn't seem probable that his name is really Tyler Durden, although he gives Marla this name before he even meets the "other" Tyler. Also, his name is probably not Jack, for his references to the name seem to come directly from the articles he read. The DVD and film score, however, refer to him as Jack, so that's generally what I use. (In the book, though, the phrase is "I am Joe's _______" . . .)

Matt White writes to say, "Just to let you know I won an auction for a pay slip from Fight Club from the Fox archives. The pay slip is made payable to Jack Moore (that could be anyone, but... on the auction Fox states in the subject line 'featuring Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden, Edward Norton as Jack Moore' and so on.)"

Lorraine writes, "...if Jack's real name is Jack Moore, it occured to me that that in itself is ironic. 'Jack' meaning "You ain't got Jack" and Moore meaning... well, more. Possession. It could be taken two ways. He wants more Jack (i.e. more nothing) or he thinks more possessions are worth Jack. As Jack seems unlikely to be his real name, although the pay slip is to this name, it could just be an odd sense of humour at work."

Matan offers his input on the Narrator's name:

"First of all, all through the movie, the Narrator's real name plays a big part. We can clearly see that there is a difference between his name and Tyler's. For example, when the Narrator travels from one city to the next the guy at the bar tells him he's Mr. Durden and then the Narrator realizes something is wrong and runs to the hotel. Of course, you could say that his first name is Tyler but his last name isn't, which brings me to exhibit B.

In the scene where the Narrator's secret is being revealed in the hotel, he calls Marla and at some point she calls him Tyler (and only Tyler) and right after that he realizes the whole thing ("...we have just lost cabin pressure..."). Now, why would he be shocked if his first name was Tyler? This is probably the best clue that proves that the Narrator's first name is not Tyler.

One last thing I noticed that indirectly supports my theory that his name can't be Tyler is shown in the scene when Bob is shot and lying in the house. The Narrator has the whole "he has a name" speech and somebody states that one of the rules in Project Mayhem is that they have no names. Now, why would Tyler make such a rule? of course there could be some obvious symbolism I might have missed but the way I see it, he made that rule so no one would approach the Narrator and accidently call him Tyler and thus exposing him. If this theory of mine makes sense then it shows how ingenious the script is in that they took care of such small details.

Also, in the scene just before Bob is brought into the house, shot, he tells Marla "Tyler's not here, Tyler went away, Tyler's gone". Obviously, he doesn't mean to talk about himself (although he does, he just doesn't know it yet)."

Pat gives proof that the Narrator's name is not Tyler Durden: "...the whole could Jack's name be Tyler Durden in any way shape or form... no... because he looks at the plane tickets and they all say Tyler Durden... and if you go by the book he shows Marla his license during the clam chowder scene... that's not saying that his first name can't be or his last name can't be but Ithink the plane ticket thing is enough..."

Eskil, on the other hand fully believes that Jack's name is really Tyler: "I, for one, am quite convinced that the narrators name is Tyler. The first time he meets Tyler on the plane is the first hint. Some would say that he's just reading Tyler(pitt)'s card, OR he could be introducing himself. In the phonebooth, after his apartment got blown up, it happens again. Tyler(pitt) says "who is this..." and after a while the narrator simply replies "Tyler". Now he could be asking who was on the other line, or he could be answering Tyler(pitt)'s question. And as for the ticket-excuse. Well, we do get told that it was the narrator himself that made all of those trips.. Now i could be wrong! But really... -It all makes sense, in a Tyler sort of way!"

I watched these parts again and I'm satisfied that the Narrator isn't really introducing himself as Tyler. But who knows for sure?


The Narrator's Possessions

At the beginning of the movie, the Narrator defined himself through his possessions. He obtained things one item at a time, buying objects that he thought would reflect who he was as a person. In reality, he was shaping his personality to be the kind of person who would own the things he had. Among the things he owned was a round table whose top was painted with a giant yin-yang. This table symbolized what was lacking in the Narrator's life: balance, something that a coffee table couldn't replace. This is shown rather clearly after the table is blasted out of his condo by Tyler's explosives.

After the explosion, the Narrator sees his refrigerator lying on the street outside, full of ketchup and mustard. He comments, "How embarrassing. A house full of condiments and no food." This illustrates what his possessions really were: condiments. There was nothing substantial in the persona he tried to build through them. Even after he has gone to live with Tyler, the Narrator continues to present what he owned to the outside world as himself. He tells the dectective who called, "That was not a bunch of stuff that got destroyed, it was me." Of course, the Narrator immediately adds to himself, 'I'd like to thank the Academy,' but the very fact that he would even jokingly define himself by what he owned shows that he hasn't really changed.


Andy was the first one to figure out who the Narrator really works for:

"In the scene where "Tyler" beats himself up in his boss' office, there is a flash of the business cards on the desk. It is very quick, about 5-10 frames. It is toward the end of the scene, where "Tyler" is crawling, all bloodied, toward his boss.

If you use the pause button, you'll notice "FMC" in large letters across the front of the card. I'm sure this is a play on the Ford Motor Company, but in smaller letters on the card it says "Federated Motor Corporation."

It's pretty neat, it has an address, telephone number and even e-mail address."

I find the business card itself pretty clever... "Compliance & Liability Division"? If you look closely, you'll notice that no state is given . . . and that the zip code has six digits. The phone numbers have the classic 555 city codes, and when I checked, the area code (288) doesn't seem to exist. The domain of the email address, "telnex.com," pulls up the website of TelNex Technologies, Inc., an IT comany located in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

libbydehge.at.aol.dot.com adds that "[T]elnex, the e-mail domain of the boss, is also the same company of the pay phone that the Narrator calls Tyler from in the beginning of the movie... probably nothing big."


The Narrator's Telephone Number

Jason writes, "Alright, when Jack and Marla first meet and they exchange numbers, what phone number does Jack give to her? Because think about it, after his apartment explodes, she calls him at Tyler's place... Tyler said he'd been at his place for a while so maybe Tyler existed before Jack knew about him, and Jack unconsciously just gave Marla Tyler's home number, not his apartment's number. Either Jack gave Marla Tyler's number, or Jack and Marla had to have at least talked off-camera at some point, probably when Jack was Tyler, and she must have gotten his new number."

Anne Catherine replies, "Well, as Marla called Tyler and the narrator responded the phone he asked her how she did find out the number. She answers that she called him at his appartement and there was a message on his answering machine (or at least a message system which provides call number redirections or an anncouncement with the new number) left with the new phone number. So I don't see any obscurities in here. "


Theresa Rose writes: The Narrator is guilty of breaking several of the Rules of Fight Club and Project Mayhem several times in throughout the movie.

He talks about Fight Club with Bob on the street and tells Marla he has found a new support group that is "for men only" (Rules 1 and 2).

When Angel passes out, he fails to stop beating him (Rule 3).

He allows Bob to wear a shirt during their fight (Rule 6).

The rules he does not break include Rule 4 (Only two guys to a fight - although, he is seen ganging up with Tyler on Raymond K. Hessel behind the convenience store); Rule 5 (One fight at a time); Rule 7 (fights will go on as long as they have to); and Rule 8 (If this is your first time at Fight Club, you have to fight).

Although we do not know all the rules of Project Mayhem, he repeatedly breaks the rules we do know: He asks questions (which members worry is him testing them) and there is no castration despite the fact that several people try to "interfere with Project Mayhem."

We are all guilty of breaking the rules in life at some point as well as submitting to them.