Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter)

The Accidental Tourist

Marla Singer might have one of the best entrances in movie history. She walks into a support group smoking a cigarette, exhales, and says "This is cancer, right?" Awesome. Like our narrator, she doesn't care what kind of cancer; she needs some misery to feed off of.

Her presence rubs our narrator the wrong way.

NARRATOR: Her lie reflected my lie, and suddenly, I felt nothing.

He hates her because he hates himself. Lucky for us, this hatred gets some good lines like, "If I did have a tumor, I'd name it Marla" and "Marla. The little scratch on the roof of your mouth that would heal if only you could stop tonguing it, but you can't."

And he can't let her go. As much as he wants to hate her, he can't, because the two of them are so similar: depressed, empty, and nihilistic. Our narrator blows up his own apartment; Marla walks into traffic. Both have a death wish, but what both really want is human connection.

A Daydream Dressed Like a Nightmare 

As our narrator is wrapped up in his him vs. Tyler identity crisis, we don't actually get to learn anything about Marla. We know she really hates herself when, after a cry-for-help suicide attempt (that's clue number one to the self loathing) she pretends to be someone else and tells the cops,

MARLA: The girl who lives there used to be a charming, lovely girl. She's lost faith in herself. She's a monster. She's infectious human waste. Good luck trying to save her!

She and Tyler get closer, but to her, an outsider, she knows that our narrator is Tyler Durden from the beginning. This is why Tyler is always telling himself not to tell Marla about him, because she'll blow the whole split-personality deal. This is why Project Mayhem works to keep them apart…at least at first.

It doesn't work for long. Our narrator/Tyler calls her and she tells him that he's Tyler Durden, prompting the climax of the movie. And even though he's a flat-out crazy person who, to her, turns on her constantly and speaks of himself in the third-person, she seems to forgive him in the end. Why? Do you think these two crazies could possibly ever work out?

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