I've seen this movie about a hundred times, read the book several times as well, but there's one thing I don't understand.

At the end of opening sequence, right before the flashback to Jack meeting Bob, Jack says in the voice over:

                         JACK (V.O.)
            Somehow, I realize all of this -- the
            gun, the bombs, the revolution -- is
            really about Marla Singer.

How exactly is it about Marla Singer? How is she the cause of all that? Did Jack create Tyler because of Marla? What did I miss?

2 Answers 2


The narrator had many characters he used in different group meetings. Marla meets him as Cornelius for example. When the narrator was in the presence of another faker, he couldn't let go, he couldn't cry, and so he couldn't sleep. Marla was a constant reminder, he was a fake as well.

He tried to explain how essential these support group meetings were to him, but she didn't care. Marla faces her problems in a very head on way. She goes to meetings to see people die, so she can feel alive. She cares very little for what everyone thinks of her, openly smoking in a cancer support meeting.

They split up the groups, and exchange phone numbers, but the narrator had long been without rest due to Marla, and he departs soon after in a business trip, where he meets Tyler for the first time who gives him his business card with his phone number. We had seen Tyler before, when the narrator was extremely tired and complaining of lost time. Tyler'd walk by the narrator, or just flash across the screen.

Looking back at one of the meetings, they are taught to go inside their cave, and find their power animal, which represent themselves. The narrator, initially has a penguin, but later his power animal becomes Marla. The narrator refuses this - or at least he thinks he does. But by obsessing with her, he gives rise to Tyler, and Tyler and Marla have plenty in common. He created Tyler in the image of Marla.

When you examine Tyler, you can see Marla in the way he thinks and preaches. He said stop caring what other people think. To do what you need to feel alive. And to stop trying to control your life. So, in short, Marla was the inspiration for Tyler. And Tyler is the bigger than life / taken to the extreme version of Marla's way of life (at least in the eyes of the narrator).

  • 1
    What about the flashes of Tyler that happen even before Jack goes to support groups and meets Marla? Does it mean the seeds of Tyler were already in his head, but meeting Marla only gave then the power to grow? If that's so, then it's not ALL because of Marla. Jack has Tyler within him even before and she's not the reason for it all, merely a catalyst.
    – mzywiol
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 10:59
  • 1
    We see Tyler before he meets Marla, but we don't know exactly what he was up to. Tyler was his alter ego on each sleepless night. The lost time he complained to the doctor, was when the narrator went and did something to pass the time as Tyler (usually a menial part night time job) - this was all before Marla, but he was mostly harmless. Meeting Marla just fleshed him out, and his lack of sleep took him to the point he started hallucinating Tyler was there. Marla created the situation for the narrator re-lapse, and inspiration to a much more dangerous alter ego.
    – CyberClaw
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 11:30
  • 1
    Interesting. I always thought Jack's insomnia was an actual insomnia that was caused by his empty life, but he still remembered everything happening to him during his waking hours (we see him watching TV on a coach, and his mention of narcolepsy to the doctor I always interpreted as a lie or exaggeration only to be given some pills). Then, when he goes to the groups and starts sleeping again - I always thought THAT'S when Tyler first appears, taking control of Jack's body while he was sleeping "like a baby" and doing all those menial jobs. But I admit, your explanation makes more sense.
    – mzywiol
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 8:40

Consider the fact that Marla is also a creation of his imagination. Marla is the third way between Tyler primal aggression and Jack numbed modern man. She is a true self without harming others and harming yourself.

  • 3
    Marla is not a part of his imagination. This was an unsubstantiated theory for the first book, and clearly disproven in Fight Club 2. EDIT: I'm purposely avoiding spoilers as I'm guessing most people here don't know there is a sequel to the book in the form of comics.
    – CyberClaw
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 10:19
  • @CyberClaw Yeah, but we need to consider a movie as a different FC. As Marla in the movie share the same "no existing" traits as Tyler. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 10:29
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    She does not. Marla shares the personality traits of Tyler. The reason is explained in the initial monologue (Tyler is based on Marla, she was the narrator power animal). But she is as discernibly real as Bob. She tells the narrator he is Tyler. If she was also a figment of his imagination how would that work? Besides, Tyler is unique in his presentation in the movie. We see flashes of Tyler for a split second when the narrator is not sleeping, even before we are introduced to him. Wounds to the narrator reflect on Tyler. Not on Marla.
    – CyberClaw
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 10:42
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    I did consider that theory and I disagree with it completely. If you allow more and more people to just be figments of Jack's imagination, you end up with Jack being a single crazy person living within his own head, and that story would be completely pointless.
    – mzywiol
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 11:01
  • 3
    The biggest hint Marla is real, is the waiter talks to the narrator about her. "In that case sir may I advise against the lady eating the clam chowder..." In the same sentence he acknowledges the narrator as Tyler (sir) and Marla (lady).
    – CyberClaw
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 11:35

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