Promise

“That’s three times you promised.”

– Tyler Durden, Fight Club

I just realised in the shower this morning that Edward Norton’s character “Jack” (if that is his real name) in Fight Club never breaks his promise to Tyler not to talk to Marla about Tyler. Why did I realise this in the shower? This is rather inane isn’t it? No. Not entirely.

Fight Club is, among other things about masculinity. One important part of masculinity is steadfastness, trustworthiness, dedication. When a man gives his word, swears to do something or gives a handshake its supposed to mean something. It means, “I will do (or not do) to the absolute best of my ability this thing that I have said, no matter the personal consequences.” This is when a man is a rock, solid, permanent and unmovable. I thought of this in the shower when I was thinking about expressing to someone my stance on something and asking myself whether in this particular instance an oath was really called for.

In Fight Club “Jack” promises Tyler that he won’t discuss Tyler with Marla. Eventually it becomes very important for “Jack” to know just what the relationship between Tyler and Marla is, but instead of asking her about Tyler, he asks her about the relationship between Marla and himself.

“Jack” finds a workaround and keeps his honour intact. A minor detail given all that’s going on, but I think, an important one.

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