One of the most confusing symbols in the movie is the Narrator's "heart chakra." It stems from an exercise held in the brain parasites group; the participants are urged to "open a door" in the backs of their minds and step through into their chakras. The Narrator, going by the name of Rupert, finds himself in an ice cave. There he meets his power animal, an obscenely cute penguin who chirps, "Slide." The penguin then giggles like a child and slides across the room on his stomach.
Later, after Marla begins attending the support groups, she invades the Narrator's heart chakra as well. He sees her sitting in his cave, smoking, and the penguin is no where in sight. Marla looks up at him and says, "Slide." She later appears in the chakra when the Narrator tries to find peace there while Tyler is scarring his hand with lye. The Narrator leans down to kiss her but she blows smoke at him instead.
What does the heart chakra mean? It is never really explained, but it can be assumed that this is the Narrator's subconscious self: ice. It and the penguin are the opposites of Tyler, who embodies fire. Marla's appearance in the chakra indicates that she is akin to the Narrator in her nature. She becomes his power animal, showing that she is too much like him. He needs Tyler's fire, the part of himself that escaped, to become whole.
Nick writes, "The narrator identifies the penguin as his power animal. I thought why would Palahniuk choose a penguin out of all other birds and animals. So I did some research on penguins and found some information that would link the narrators character to the penguin. First of all, male penguins play an important role in incubating a couple's eggs. This would demonstrate his absent father figure. Also, the penguins markings may have some connection- many people identify the penguins marking as looking like a man in a tuxedo. This could also relate to masculinity, but also materialism and the yuppie society. It could also relate to his job as a waiter."
Michael writes, "I read the "slide" quote as a parallel to Tyler Durden's philosophies on "hitting rock bottom." Tyler says things like "it is only when we have lost everything that we are free to do anything." I think the colloquial connotations of "slide" is to let things "slide." That is, his inner self (ie Tyler) is striving to reach a point when nothing affects him, and he can truly let anything "slide." There is a quote from Jack (narrator) when he and Tyler are at the convenience store with guy who wants to be a vet... Jack says that the overall goal was to attain the ability "to let that which does not matter, truly slide.""
*new* And 13 Stitches points out, "I just wanted to mention, that you guys have missed an important aspect of the penguin-symbol - it's a bird that can't fly... - think about it... :)"
John Koehn writes to say "...it is incorrectly stated that when Marla appears in the Narrator's ice cave that she says "Slide." In fact, what Marla says is, "It's a lie." If you watch the film in closed captioning, or simply pay very close attention, you will notice this. I think that it is actually a very important aspect to the film."
Pat responded, "...when Jack walks into the cave and Marla is sitting there she says 'Slide,' not 'it's a lie.' I watched the scene 3x with closed captions and listened to it... the captions say 'slide' and she says 'slide'..."
And finally, Freezon solves the mystery. He writes that the "subtitles on the dvd version say "slide", and on vhs it says "it's a lie"." Finally, we know the truth-- John and Pat are BOTH right! I watched the DVD with subtitles, and it does say "Slide," but I agree that it sounds as if Marla could be saying either.