Warning: Fight Club Spoilers Within
We all know that Fight Club is the story of two men who turn out to really be just one man. The story of a nameless insomniac, referred to by fans as either “Jack” or “The Narrator,” and his friend Tyler Durden. Everyone knows that, in the film’s final act, we learn that “Jack” never really had a friend named Tyler. That Tyler Durden was the Narrator all along. That they are the same person.
What this theory suggests is simple: what if they weren’t the same person? What if Tyler Durden was a real, distinct, flesh-and-blood person?
When you watch Fight Club now, you notice all the small details. That the phone in the phone booth says “No Incoming Calls.” That when “Jack” asks “Could you wake up as a different person?” we see Tyler Durden for the first time, at the airport. That Tyler Durden lives on Paper Street, a supposedly non-existent road. That Tyler warned the Narrator never to talk to anyone about him. That Tyler and the Narrator have the same life story, a story of paternal abandonment, the inability to find happiness with a college degree and a job and no wife or family. And so on and so on.
Instead, consider this: The Narrator was a desperately lonely man at the beginning of Fight Club, as we already know. He went to support groups for diseases he did not have, he traveled extensively for business doing a job that drove him to misery, and he had no true friends. One day, he met a man who embodied everything he wanted to be. Handsome, confident, charming, and truly clever, Tyler Durden presented himself in The Narrator’s life and, in their brief interaction on the plane, The Narrator saw an opportunity for someone to be more than a single-serving friend. He lived in the same city as this other man, and could see himself becoming this man’s friend.