Narrator and marla’s transformation

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By TORI E. GIBBS 2010, VOL. 2 NO. 04

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Narrator and marla’s transformation

  1. 1. Narrator and Marla‟s transformationThey cannot be together until they restore thestereotypical traits of the male and female. Love doesnot work unless you conform to the „norm‟ Narrator feminine to Marla Masculine to feminine masculineWhen we first encounter Jack byhimself, he is sitting on the toiletin his home, holding a cordlesstelephone between his ear and hisshoulder, ordering “the Erika Pekkaridust ruffles” while staring at afurniture magazine. The camera spansto show the rest of his home, withassorted furniture and dish itemspopping into place on the screen(accompanied by their prices anddescriptions) while he speaks abouthis fixation with them:“Like so many others, I had become aslave to the lKEA nesting instinct.If I saw something clever, like alittle coffee table in the shape of ayin-yang, I had to have it. TheKlipsk personal office unit. TheHovetrekke home exerbike. Or theOhamshab sofa with the Strinne greenstripe pattern. Even the Ryslampawire lamps of environmentallyfriendly unbleached paper. Id flipthrough catalogues and wonder, „Whatkind of dining set defines me as aperson?‟ I had it all. Even the glassdishes with tiny bubbles andimperfections, proof that they werecrafted by the honest, hard-working,indigenous peoples of...wherever. Weused to read pornography. Now it wasthe Horchow collection” (Fight Club).Traditionally speaking, the home,including furniture and dishes, areconsidered to be within the woman‟ssphere(4”30‟)Our next initial encounter with Jackinclude him asking his doctor toprescribe some kind of sleeping pillsfor his insomnia (which the doctorrefuses to prescribe), describingthem in his narration as “red andblue Tuinals, lipstick-red Seconals”(Fight Club). Here, lipstick isanother association with thefeminine.(5”40‟)In the following scene, Jack is at a Enter Marla Singer, sporting wild,support group for men with testicular Medusa-like hair, bug-eye sunglasses,cancer (which he does not have). The and loudly clacking high-heels. Shegroup leader calls time for one-on- walks boldly into the room, smoking aone conversations, and Jack meets cigarette, and asks in a deep,
  2. 2. Bob—a large male with what Jack calls“bitch tits”. He and Bob have a brief raspy voice, “This is cancer, right?”conversation, after which Bob cries, without so much as a smile orand encourages Jack to cry. Jack does greeting. (11”09’)so, and that night he finds his She immediately unnerves Jack, as sheinsomnia to be cured. He begins obviously does not have testicularattending other support groups for cancer. He sees her in his otherillnesses he does not have, so that support groups, and knows that shehe can cry and be comforted, and thus is, like himself, a tourist. Thissleep. Here, Jack is blatantly knowledge throws Jack off kilter:disregarding the adage that “boys “Her lie reflected my lie. Anddon‟t cry”, and embracing what is suddenly, I felt nothing. I couldn‟toften considered to be a cry. So once again, I couldn‟t sleep”stereotypically feminine indulgence (Fight Club). Jack confronts Marlain tears. and tells her he wants her to leave;(6”40’) Marla is completely unfazed and walks away. Jack runs after her and follows her out the door and down the street to a Laundromat, attempting to negotiate some kind of compromise. Marla still appears unaffected, but agrees to split up the support groups. She leaves the Laundromat and walks across the street without looking either way, bringing traffic to a halt; Jack, after stopping to make sure he won’t be hit, follows her. The come to a final agreement on who will attend which support groups; Marla calls it a deal and sticks out her hand to be shaken, and walks out the door without a goodbye. Throughout this entire scene, Marla is the one who exhibits recklessness and confidence—traditionally male qualities—leaving Jack trailing fretfully in her wake. (16”08’)Soon after this, Jack encountersTyler Durden (Jack‟s alter-ego), whohe moves in with after coming home tofind his apartment complex on fire.Tyler‟s attitude towards life is theepitome of stereotypical masculinity—he is careless, destructive, violent,cocky, and slightly grimy-looking. Herubs off very noticeably on Jack, whobegins to exhibit similar traits. Bythe time we see Marla again eightweeks have passed, during which timeJack morphs into somewhat of areplica of Tyler. She calls to askwhy Jack hasn’t been attending hissupport groups and to calmly informhim that she has probably overdosedon Xanex. The camera shows her withher head resting on a dirty, case-less pillow: not a very “feminine”thing to do, and in direct contrastwith Jack‟s spotless apartment in thebeginning of the film. However,whereas throughout their firstconversation when Jack was chasingafter her trying to get her tolisten, in this scene, Marlacontinues talking to Jack after hesimply leaves the phone off the hookand walks away. This shows markedly
  3. 3. how much Jack has changed sincemeeting Tyler.(45”25’) A few scenes later, Marla calls Jack because she thinks she‟s found a lump in her breast. Jack is not sure how to deal with this, but he goes to her apartment anyway. When he shows up, she offers him a stolen boxed lunch, saying she got it for him, and she asks concernedly about a burn on his hand—both motherly, feminine actions. This marks Marla’s shift away from the more masculine traits in her character, which occurs only after she is forced to face the distinctly feminine threat of a lump in her breast. She continues on this very feminine cant by kissing Jack a thank-you after he examines her breast and fails to find a lump, and then by appearing frustrated and disappointed when Jack asks if they are done (because she and Jack have been sleeping together for some time, even though Jack is unaware of it). (01:03)By the time Jack realizes that he andTyler are actually the same person,Marla has grown visibly fond of him,as well as visibly frustrated withthe huge inconsistencies of hischaracter. (01:52)As Project Mayhem is about to set offa major act of terrorism, Jack isattempting to undo what he has donewhile being Tyler. He apologizes to afurious Marla, and jumps in front ofa bus to stop it and try and makeMarla board and get to safety. Thisparticular act marks another hugechange in Jack—who at the beginningof the film, looked both ways beforecrossing the street after Marla.Additionally, Jack, previously a non-violent person, resorts to violencein order to try and prevent ProjectMayhem‟s plan from succeeding,eventually shooting himself in themouth in order to rid himself ofTyler. He takes responsibility forwhat he has done as Tyler, and takescharge of the situation, ordering themembers of Project Mayhem to leave.(02:07) In the final scene, Marla starts to berate Jack for everything he’s cause her to go through, but she stops when she sees that he’s been shot. She is genuinely upset by this and immediately starts “playing nurse” and trying to help him. When the buildings around them start exploding, Jack tells Marla that he is fine and that everything is going to be all right. (02:10)
  4. 4. Both Marla and Jack go through tremendous changes in characterthroughout the movie. The violence they both experiencetransforms Jack into a stronger person—making him more self-aware and assertive—and Marla into a more sensitive person—making her softer and less callous. Whereas Jack displays themore feminine traits in the beginning of the film, and Marlathe more masculine, now each has given up some of thoseopposing gender qualities and absorbed more of that of theirown gender.The impression we are left with at the end of Fight Club isthat the rearrangement of Marla and Jack’s masculine andfeminine traits leads them to become better people. Marla, asa more feminine woman, is more tender towards Jack, and thusmore appealing to him. Jack, as a more masculine man, is moreconfident towards Marla, and thus more appealing to her.This suggests that only through the proper alignment ofmasculine and feminine traits can one truly achieve goodcharacter and proper ethos. While feminists and supportershave worked vigorously in an attempt to blur the lines ofgender constructs, this shows that despite the progress made,they are still very apparent in modern culture, and modernsociety.
  5. 5. By TORI E. GIBBS 2010, VOL. 2 NO. 04

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