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The Narrator (Fight Club)

2019-07-01 06:19:01
The Narrator / Tyler Durden
Fight Club character
First appearancePursuit of Happiness (1995)
Created byChuck Palahniuk
Portrayed byEdward Norton and
Brad Pitt
Voiced byDave Wittenberg and Joshua Leonard
  • Sebastian
  • Joe
  • Jack
  • Cornelius
  • Rupert
  • Lenny
  • Travis
  • Mr. Taylor
  • Ozzie
  • Harriet
  • Automobile recall coordinator
  • soapmaker
  • movie theatre projectionist
  • banquet waiter
  • military contractor
SpouseMarla Singer

The Narrator is a fictional character appearing as both the central protagonist and antagonist of the 1996 Chuck Palahniuk novel Fight Club, its 1999 film adaptation of the same name, and the comic book Fight Club 2. The character has dissociative identity disorder, and is depicted as an unnamed everyman known as the Narrator during the day, while he becomes the chaotic and charismatic Tyler Durden at night during periods of insomnia.

In 2008, Tyler was selected by Empire magazine as the greatest movie character of all the time.[1] When the list was redone in 2015, he placed at number 8.[2]


  • 1 Appearances
    • 1.1 Novels
      • 1.1.1 Pursuit of Happiness (1995)
      • 1.1.2 Fight Club (1996)
      • 1.1.3 Fight Club 2 (2015)
    • 1.2 Film
    • 1.3 Video games
  • 2 Reception
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links



Pursuit of Happiness (1995)

The Narrator first appeared in a seven-page short story in the 1995 compilation Pursuit of Happiness.[3] This story later became chapter six of the novel Fight Club, which Palahniuk published in 1996.[4]

Fight Club (1996)

In the 1996 novel, the Narrator is depicted as an average middle-class man employed at an unnamed automobile company, wherein he inspects car accidents to determine if an automobile model should be recalled. Suffering from insomnia and depression, he begins visiting support groups for people with illnesses that he is not afflicted with himself. This induces catharsis within him, enabling him to sleep. When a woman named Marla Singer begins to appear at the groups, his euphoria is broken and his insomnia returns.

He meets a man named Tyler Durden while alone on a nude beach, and begins living with him after his condominium explodes due to unknown causes. The duo establish a weekly meeting known as "fight club", in which they and other men can engage in bare-knuckle fistfights. After Marla calls their residence, threatening her suicide, Tyler and Marla begin an affair that causes the Narrator to feel uneasy. Tyler initiates a cult-like organisation known as Project Mayhem in order to aggressively promote his anti-consumerist ideals, but the Narrator becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the group as its activities become more destructive.

The Narrator learns that he and Tyler are, in fact, the same person, as his mind formed a new role-model-like personality that was able to escape from the issues that plagued his life. With the help of Project Mayhem, Tyler plans to destroy a skyscraper and a national museum using homemade explosives. These explosives were created through Tyler's theft of left-over fat from liposuction clinics, which were used to craft the bombs' ingredients. Tyler plans to die alongside the Narrator as a martyr during the event. Attempting to stop Tyler's actions, the Narrator ascends to the roof of the building, where Tyler holds him at gunpoint. When Marla arrives on the roof with one of the support groups, Tyler vanishes, as Tyler "was his hallucination, not hers."[5]

With Tyler gone, the Narrator waits for the explosives to kill him. The bomb malfunctions, as Tyler mixed paraffin into the explosives. Still alive and holding Tyler's pistol, the Narrator makes the choice to shoot himself. Later, he regains consciousness in a mental hospital, believing he is in Heaven, and imagines an argument with God over human nature. The novel ends with the Narrator being approached by hospital employees who are actually members of Project Mayhem.

The Narrator does not have a name in the novel, yet is often referred to as "Joe," due to his quotes such as "I am Joe's [blank]". These quotes refer to the narrator's reading older Reader's Digest articles in which human organs write about themselves in first-person perspective.

Fight Club 2 (2015)

In the comic book sequel Fight Club 2, it is revealed that the Narrator's real name is Sebastian.[6] Set ten years after the original novel, the Narrator is depicted as working at a military contractor company, and he and Marla are married and have a nine-year-old son named Junior.[7][8] After Junior is killed in a house fire, it is revealed that Sebastian's mother and father both died in two other separate fires.[9] Unlike in the film, Tyler appearance is based on a personal friend of the author, depicted as having "shoulder-length-Jesus blond hair."[10] His temper is somewhat kept under control through Sebastian's medication.

Fight Club 2 provides a new, drastically different explanation for Tyler Durden: Sebastian discovers that Tyler is not merely his own split personality, but essentially, a sort of Meme who can spread from one person to another. The current host of the "Tyler Durden" split personality damages the life of a younger child with the express purpose of causing the stress factors that will give rise to a new "Tyler Durden" split personality in them when they grow up, thus allowing "Tyler Durden" to achieve a sort of functional immortality. Sebastian's therapist pieced this together through hypnosis sessions, explaining to him that Sebastian's own father was a host, and his father before him, and "Tyler" was involved in shaping Marla's life as well - "breeding them like cattle" for generations, so Sebastian and Marla could in turn produce a son, who would be Tyler's host in the next generation. Their son Junior only faked his death in a house fire, as he is slowly being taken over by his own Tyler Durden split personality just as his father was. Sebastian has to race to stop "Tyler", even though he cannot truly kill him without killing both his son and himself.


Edward Norton as the Narrator (left) and Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden (right).

In the 1999 film Fight Club, based on the Palahniuk novel and directed by David Fincher, the Narrator is portrayed by Edward Norton while Tyler is played by Brad Pitt.[11] The actors began preparation for their roles by taking lessons in boxing, grappling,[12] taekwondo, and soapmaking.[13][14] Pitt made the decision to visit a dentist to have pieces of his front teeth chipped off so that the character of Tyler would have imperfect teeth.[15] The pieces were restored after the film's production concluded.[16]

The film's portrayal of the Narrator and Tyler is similar to that of the novel, with some differences. Unlike the novel, the two meet during a plane flight rather than on a nude beach, and the cinematic incarnation of Tyler does not murder anyone, unlike the literary version. Furthermore, while the novel ends with the Narrator in a mental hospital, the film concludes with the Narrator and Marla in a skyscraper, overlooking the skyline that is detonating due to Project Mayhem's explosives.

Like in the novel, the Narrator does not have a name, though the script refers to him as "Jack".[17] While the novel features the Narrator referring to himself as "Joe" from Reader's Digest articles, the film adaptation replaces "Joe" with "Jack".

Video games

In the 2004 video game Fight Club, developed by Genuine Games and released by Vivendi, the Narrator is voiced by Dave Wittenberg while Tyler is voiced by Joshua Leonard.


In 2008, Tyler was selected by Empire magazine as the greatest movie character of all time.[1] When the list was redone in 2015, he placed at number 8.[2]

See also

  • Unreliable narrator
  • Dissociative identity disorder
  • Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde


  1. ^ a b Sciretta, Peter (1 December 2008). "Empire's The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time". SlashFilm. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b "The Greatest Movie Characters Of All Time". Empire. 29 June 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  3. ^ Linny Stovall, ed. (June 1995). Pursuit of Happiness: A Left Bank Book (First ed.). Blue Heron Publishing. ISBN 0936085304.
  4. ^ Chuck Palahniuk (August 17, 1996). Fight Club: A Novel (1st ed.). W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0393039765.
  5. ^ Palahniuk, Fight Club, 1999, p. 195.
  6. ^ Fight Club 2 #1, Chuck Palahniuk & Cameron Stewart, Dark Horse Comics, May 2015
  7. ^ "Fight Club 2 #1". Dark Horse Comics. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  8. ^ Thompson, Barry (31 March 2016). "Chuck Palahniuk Destroyed His Legacy With Fight Club 2 (His Best Work In Years)". Paste Monthly. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Fight Club 2 #2 pg.10". Dark Horse Comics. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  10. ^ Van Luling, Todd (7 January 2015). "11 Things You Didn't Know About 'Fight Club'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  11. ^ Petrikin, Chris (January 7, 1998). "Studio Report Card: Fox". Variety. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  12. ^ Garrett, Stephen (July 1999). "Freeze Frame". Details.
  13. ^ Schneller, Johanna (August 1999). "Brad Pitt and Edward Norton make 'Fight Club'". Premiere.
  14. ^ O'Neill, Olivia (15 October 2014). "Fight Club: 19 things you didn't know about the film". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  15. ^ Roger Cormier (18 December 2015). "15 Things You Might Not Know About 'Fight Club'". Mental Floss. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  16. ^ Nashawaty, Chris (July 16, 1998). "Brad Pitt loses his teeth for a "Fight"". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  17. ^ Uhls, Jim; Fight Club screenplay;

External links

  • The Narrator on IMDb