Interpersonal Communication in the film Fight Club
“You’re the most interesting ‘single serving’ friend I have ever met.” These are some of the first words that initiated the close, yet unorthodox relationship between Jack and Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club. The film follows the narrator (indirectly referred to as Jack) and the entire movie takes place from his perspective. This is an important factor when analyzing the relationship between him and Tyler, because we only see the events through Jack’s eyes. The relationship between these key characters is a reflection of Mark Knapp’s developmental model as shown in Adler & Rodman (2012). (p.205) In the film the audience can clearly see the three major stages, coming together, maintenance, and coming apart. I will show these stages and how they relate to the narrator’s development through the movie.
The film begins with Jack, a businessman with a bad case of insomnia. His insomnia is a constant struggle for him throughout the movie, but it is not the focal point of his relationship with Tyler. The only cure to his insomnia is to join support groups for diseases and cancers he doesn’t have, but pretends to. By interacting with the people in these groups, he finds his catharsis through the guided meditation and the caring atmosphere.
Then he meets Tyler Durden, where the audience witnesses the “coming together” stages between these two characters. (Adler & Rodman, 2012) Tyler Durden is a traveling soap salesman whom Jack meets on a business trip. In the narrative, Jack refers to the items in his travels as “single serving” such as, single serving meals, single serving soap, and shampoo in hotels. Hence at the end of his first conversation with Tyler, Jack calls him a “single serving friend”. Tyler’s response insight into their future relationship “You’re clever, how has ‘being clever’ been working out for you?” Jack is constantly hiding behind his support groups and his clever attitude and Tyler isn’t afraid to expose Jack. This initiates the relationship between the two characters, Tyler sees Jack as a soul searching for enlightenment, where Jack sees Tyler as someone who it everything he isn’t.
Due to unfortunate circumstances, Jacks apartment is destroyed, Jack finds himself in a bar with Tyler. Jack called this “single serving friend” because he had nobody else to go to. In the bar Jack and Tyler make small talk about the finer points of human existence. Jack’s life was wrapped up in his apartment, he had all of the material possessions he had ever desired, and he felt he was nearly complete. Tyler expresses to Jack to never be complete, stop being perfect, and let the chips fall where they may. He says “The things that you own end up owning you”. This theme resonates throughout the movie and is the cornerstone of the relationship between Jack and Tyler. At this point these two characters have experienced the experimenting stage, through this small talk Jack finds his twisted alter ego. Tyler is the embodiment of everything Jack is not, Tyler is spontaneous, enigmatic, confident and attractive. Jack feels like a drone going through life on autopilot.
After leaving the bar Tyler makes an interesting proposition to Jack, he tells Jack to “Hit me as hard as you can”. Thus begins a chain of events that leads to the movies namesake, Tyler and Jack begin fighting each other, as well as including other random men into these fights. Tyler and Jack become the leaders of an underground ring of fight clubs. This first fight between these two characters creates an important bond. Neither of them had ever been in a fight before, they have never truly lived before. “How do you know if you’ve lived until you’ve been in a fight” Tyler says as he coaxes Jack. The relationship between Jack and Tyler is intensified through this fight, they experience a pure form of existence, and...
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