Sunday, March 11, 2001
Fight Club still featuring Hobbes the tiger

Fight Club

The Return of Hobbes

Hobbes is reborn as Tyler to save “Jack” (a grown-up Calvin) from the slough of un-comic despair.

By Galvin P. Chow ::: philms ::: (25) Comments ::: Read the whole thing

Comments

1

I read this analysis with great interest. The parallels between Calvin and “Jack” are outstanding. After reading this, I revisited the film, and discovered something you may find interesting:

Jack’s boss is his father. We see this first during the first “who would you most like to fight” discussion. Jack-Boss, Tyler-Father. Jack states that his father left when he was about six, when we stop seeing Calvin and Hobbes publicly together. Perhaps the traumatic event had such an impact on Calvin’s psyche that the childhood innocence of the strip was lost, leading to its end. But we learn that Jack still kept contact with his father later in life, especially when trying to find work.

We know that Jack was miserable with his job. During the time period the film was released, it was not uncommon for somebody to seek out new job opportunities when their current position was not satisfying.  So why didn’t he leave? Was it because Jack only got his job due to nepotism? Was it because his boss represented the only real authority figure in his life?

Jack’s boss is the only character in the film who questions Jack’s new club and lifestyle. During their confrontations, Jack is constantly given fatherly demands to shape up, improve his appearance, and basically “grow up.” A typical boss wouldn’t waste so much attention on a poorly performing employee; he would simply fire him.

The fact that neither wants to change the boss/employee relationship suggests that, no matter how emotionally detached it might be, a father/son relationship is present. Even when Jack quits, he is allowed to keep his salary and other assorted benefits. We are led to believe this was due to Jack’s threats of blackmail and his self-attack (more of a tantrum for not getting what he wants), but it could be more of Jack’s father recognizing he has a deeply troubled son, and so not wanting to leave him with nothing.

Also, consider that Jack’s boss is the only other main character in the movie who is not given a name. Personally, I think it makes sense.

—submitted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), Modesto, CA

Posted by editor on 29 May 03 at 12:35 AM
2

Although the analysis works, it does raise some questions, posted at the bottom of the page, my answers are as follows:

1. this is my foremost problem with the analysis.  I see Jack moreso as Hobbes and Tyler as Calvin.  It just makes sense. But, if you’ve got MPD, the personality traits will cross-over in some places, won’t they?  Besides, society suppresses child-like behaviour so efficiently that Jack involuntarily acted more like Hobbes.

2. Coincidence.  He was going for the opulent look as an ironic contravention of the ideals he seeks to undermine.  But then again, I’ve never worn a fur coat.  It could make you feel predatory…

3. This question sucks (the fun out of everything. Take it from a Ruiner, I know).  Next question.

4. He got too big for his britches, he took Jack out of the game long enough to take over.  They’re a team, so, his bitch ass had to be smacked-down.  Maybe next time, (‘cause things are always in 3s) they’ll learn to play nice, work together, and co-operate toward a single goal (what EVERYONE has to learn somehow).

Posted by o8 on 27 Jul 03 at 03:09 PM
3

1. I believe without a doubt that Hobbes/Tyler is the one who grew without Calvin’s/Jack’s knowledge. It’s like Jack realized when he found out about Tyler: when Jack’s asleep, Tyler’s awake. For the past 15-20 years, Jack has been sleepwalking doing all of the things taht society tells him to do, while inside the far depths of his mind, Hobbes/Tyler has been watching and has been getting sick of it. So, while Jack went on with his bland, meaningless life, Tyler grew up, and grew too big for Jack’s mind. He had to come out.

The other questions I’ll answer later.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05 Nov 03 at 04:34 PM
4

just a note on Jack “killing” Tyler . . .I see it as more re-integrating Tyler with his own personality and taking control of the whole person he is. Read _A Wizard of Earthsea_ by Ursula K. Le Guin for a good explaination. In my world this is how the conflict between Smith and Neo ends in the Matrix also, instead of the rather lame “okay, is it over yet?” fight they had.

Posted by dainagon on 12 Nov 03 at 05:22 PM
5

It definiatly seems that it Hobbes is the Jack personality, but Calvin as well. Let me explain: In the process of growing up, around puberty I would guess, Calvin gradualy stopped manifesting Hobbes as a physical being, a tiger. In doing this, the two fused their personalitys. This might make Calvin an intiresting charecter in highschool. Hm. Anyhow, The world beat him down, so he is all grown up, an adult, and the Hobbes element in him is the fine upstanding citizen that goes to work and pays his bills, whilst the calvin element goes about ordering furniture in effort to form a complete life (searching for the stuffed tiger of comfort?). During all this, when Calvin and Hobbes two full complete personalities fused into one, half of each had to be seperated and cast off into the back of calvins mind. These were the rebeliouse, creative, angry parts of the two, which over the years formed into tyler.
To the point: Tyler and Jack are two halves of the same person.
But, hey, this is disregarding the fact that in the comic strip Hobbes is an actual person, not a figment of Calvins imagination. Why does nobody get that?

Posted by Riley on 27 Nov 03 at 04:20 PM
6

2. Tyler wears a fur coat near the end of the movie. What is the significance of this garment, given his past incarnation as a jungle animal? Discuss.

The fur coat represents the emasculation of Tyler.  Throughout the movie Tyler gave Jack many epiphanies with the intention of finally turning Jack into a man in every sense of the word.  The coat tells Jack that he had succeded, and was thus being allowed to take back his masculinity.

Also, I think that the fur coat takes on a biblical context as well.  Tyler is very much a 21st century Christ, although a very unlikely and postmodern one.  We see similarities between Christ and Tyler in the fact that both have genuine compassion for mankind (although the way both men show it is strikingly different;  Christ with fish, bread, forgiveness of sins, and children on his lap and Tyler with a gun in an alleyway to provide a better life).  Tyler knows that he is to leave Jack’s life forever that night.  Tyler has fulfilled his job of teaching Jack how to be a man and thus the fur coat states “it is finished”.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02 Dec 03 at 02:57 AM
7

Interesting comment on Jack’s boss being his father, but Calvins’a father was a lawyer; he didn’t work for an automotive company.

Posted by Sam N. on 29 Jan 04 at 08:00 PM
8

Well put, Mr. Highgate, I applaude you!  Lovely article, the whole comparison between the comic Calvin and Hobbes (a comic I love) and Fight Club was very well done.  My whole thought process on this movie has changed drastically—I mean I loved the movie from the start and always thought that imagining someone you want to be could really happen to anyone (mine would be Marla, b/c I’ve always wanted to be that way—careless and wanton).
I got the whole father-son relationship between the boss and ‘Jack’.  The whole time I assumed the boss was his father.  I love the part when Tyler insists that ‘Jack’ blew up his own apartment—you totally think that Tyler’s a nutcase until the end. 
Wonderful article, quite the thinker ;).

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 16 Mar 04 at 08:47 PM
9

Bill Watterson in the 10th Aniversay Book: “I don’t think of Hobbes as a doll that miraculously comes to life when Calvin’s around.  Neither do I think of Hobbes as the product of Calvin’s imagination” (22).

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 15 Jun 04 at 08:44 PM
10

While your article is entertaining and does reveal Fight Club’s similarity to Calvin and Hobbes, I feel to seriously believe the two are directly related or that the author of Fight Club intentionally made this correlation is a bit rediculous. 

I feel that Fight Club’s message of more of a charge to man.  Stop being the Martha Stewart’s man.  Take up as our fore-fathers did and do something to better society, better yourself, and better the world.  This is exactly what Figh Club set out to do.  They had a purpose.

G.R.O.S.S’ contrast to Fight Club is only superficial.  The largest hole in that argument is that G.R.O.S.S. never had a purpose or missions.  Surely every now and then Calvin and Hobbes would set out to attack Susie, however Hobbes/Calvin never slept with Suzie.  Furthermore I don’t feel that Hobbes was an extension of Calvin’s personality in the way that Calvin wished he could be more like Hobbes, thier many quarrels is evidence for this. 

Jack’s boss and Cavin’s father can only loosely be related.  Yes they are both antagonists.  However, Calvin did not frame his father for child abuse to black mail him for G.R.O.S.S’ fundings.  Jack did. 

I could go on though I feel i’ve made my point.  Good job!  I enojoyed skimming your article. 

Posted by Das Serp on 09 Aug 04 at 08:31 PM
11

Thought i’d take on some of the discussion questions:

2. Tyler wears a fur coat near the end of the movie. What is the significance of this garment, given his past incarnation as a jungle animal? Discuss.

—> Maybe. It really show his “animal-self”.

3. If Calvin really wanted to change things, why didn’t he just dust off his old cardboard-box time machine and hop in? Discuss.
4. After the end of Fight Club, when Calvin realizes he’s effectively killed Hobbes twice now, do you really think he’ll still be “okay”? Discuss.

—> Well, his an adult now and, as you pointet out at the end of the article, he’s discovered that reality bites. He is like Peter Pan in Hook, but this time it’s a new twist to it. in “Hook”, Peter returned to his old life, as does “Jack”. But Jack isn’t really freed until he symbolicly killes Tyler/Hobbes. He is no “okay”, he has finally found his true identity - maybe a mixture of a grown up man and the young Calvin. Tyler has “helped” him, but in a wrong way. Calvin is no free.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06 Sep 04 at 05:26 PM
12

Das Serp wrote this:

“G.R.O.S.S’ contrast to Fight Club is only superficial. The largest hole in that argument is that G.R.O.S.S. never had a purpose or missions. Surely every now and then Calvin and Hobbes would set out to attack Susie, however Hobbes/Calvin never slept with Suzie. Furthermore I don’t feel that Hobbes was an extension of Calvin’s personality in the way that Calvin wished he could be more like Hobbes, thier many quarrels is evidence for this.”

Calvin always wanted to be more like Hobbes - he even tried to live as a tiger.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06 Sep 04 at 05:30 PM
13

I think that Calvin is Tyler. One reason is that throughout all of Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin liked to go off into his head and pretend he was somewhere else. It makes sense that he would choose to live there on a permanet basis, so during the traumatic events that led up to the “un-imagining” of Hobbes, perhaps he wandered off into his mind and never came back. Hobbes, waking and seeing his friend “gone” becomes the dominant personality. He soon thinks that his relationship with Calvin was just some fantasy.
The fur coat Tyler wears may just be an extension of when Calvin dresses up as a tiger in “Weirdos”. Also, who would be more inclined to start Fight Clubs, Project Mayhem, or anything of the sort? Calvin acts much more like the violent, destructive sort then Hobbes does. He fantasized about blasting his school to bits, has an obsession with violence and explosions, and at one point even considered bulldozing down a condo development because it destroyed the environment. This could be a precursor to destroying corporate America because of what it has done. Also, Calvin makes several references to becoming a vandal, much like the “homework” he gives out after Fight Club meetings.
Hobbes, on the other hand, is much less violent than Calvin. (He’s no pacifist though, and could easily be persuaded to join Fight Club. Whether or not he would start one is not as certain.) He seems to be the type who would accept the world and society, and would deal with it better than Calvin would.
Also, note that Tyler’s past seems more concrete than Tyler’s.  The bathtub scene shows that if Calvin is Tyler, then his dad told him to get married at thirty. And Jack’s dad told him that too. But then how did his dad leave when he was six? Well, if the “un-imagining” of Hobbes took place immediately or soon after the final Calvin and Hobbes strip, and Calvin retreated deep into his own subconscious, Hobbes’s “father” left when he was six. (Assuming Hobbes is Calvin’s age. Some evidence shows Hobbes is older, about seven.) But his “dad” (Calvin’s dad) was still around to bother him.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 20 Oct 04 at 04:25 PM
14

3. If Calvin really wanted to change things, why didn’t he just dust off his old cardboard-box time machine and hop in? Discuss.

Perhaps Calvin/Narrator can’t make that fast of a transition. For the same reason Tyler is no longer a tiger named hobbes, Calvin/narrator can no longer escape so easily. such stretches of the imagination are just no longer possible for him. Or maybe he realizes that escaping isn’t the solution, he just has to learn how to cope with reality on his own, maybe he’s growing up for the better this time, as with his admission of liking marla/suzie.

As for the father/boss connection, the reason dad and boss are so alike is because they are the same people, but not the same people. They’re both corporate whores, souless cogs, dissillusioned shells. Calvin/Narrator’s boss isn’t his biological father, no, but they’re cut from the same cloth. They are both “part of the problem” they’re both the guys Calvin/Narrator never wanted to be.

And the discrepancy of the bathroom scene where calvin/narrator says his dad left, but then says his dad told him ‘the same thing’ at 30. maybe his dad didn’t dissapear into the blue, he didn’t even seem the type to do that. Father probably got a divorce, a new wife, new kids, and then did it again, and etc. but Calvin/Narrator still could call him, still get top-notch life advice, maybe saw him every summer or something. so dad left, but he didn’t dissapear.

About: Bill Watterson in the 10th Aniversay Book: “I don’t think of Hobbes as a doll that miraculously comes to life when Calvin’s around. Neither do I think of Hobbes as the product of Calvin’s imagination” (22).
If Hobbes was a split personality, with it’s own thoughts, feeling, opinions etc. then he would neither be imaginary (he would be a very real and very influential thing, just not visible) and neither would he be a doll that came to life. It would just be that Calvin saw things one way, and to him it was real, and everyone else saw another thing.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 16 Feb 05 at 08:35 PM
15

Hey. I’m new to’ris site - Guess what my first article I read was and who I named myself after ;)

Yours truly,
Hobbes Durden.

Posted by Jan Kåre "Sander" Østmark on 29 Mar 05 at 04:59 PM
16

Okay, as the last comment were just a “Hi, I’m here” post, here’s a real ON-TOPIC post.
“Answer” is me. Question is you. (There’s bathroom, there’s toilet!)

Question 1. In the film, Calvin and Hobbes actually reversed many personality traits as Jack and Tyler. Is it possible that Calvin is the personality that got repressed and Hobbes is the one that did the “growing up”? Discuss.
Answer 1. I think it’s quite different, OF COURSE I might also add. I mean, the stuffed tiger grows up and Calvin doesn’t? What the hell, that doesn’t even make sense. A fictionary figure doesn’t grow up or evolve at all, they’re just like a toy - Same experience all the time, but always there to entertain you. Calvin grew up and became his dad, but his REPRESSED TIGER came back from the dust and junk and took control again - and this time, with a slightly more violent touch.

Question 2. Tyler wears a fur coat near the end of the movie. What is the significance of this garment, given his past incarnation as a jungle animal? Discuss.
Answer 2: I think it’s purely coincidential and has no significance at all, but if you really insist to be philosophical, it could just be to piss animal-rights fighters, in a deranged “Maddox” kind of way, if you know what I’m saying and know who I’m talking of, heh, I ‘spose.

Question 3. If Calvin really wanted to change things, why didn’t he just dust off his old cardboard-box time machine and hop in? Discuss.
Answer 3: Simple. Because going back doesn’t change anything in his current situation - Going back only brings you to another time, and doesn’t change anything. No, if he wanted to change something about his life he had to do something about it, and going back in time solves nothing as you’re only an observer in the past or the future, and can’t change time, so….that’s just too bad.

Question 4. After the end of Fight Club, when Calvin realizes he’s effectively killed Hobbes twice now, do you really think he’ll still be “okay”? Discuss.
Answer 4: Never. Hobbes will return, as an old man when Calvin is about to die, and then pull his life support out. Hah! Kah, f’kin’ owned.

Just kiddin’. He’ll be okay, but never the same as before.

Posted by Jan Kåre "Sander" Østmark on 01 Apr 05 at 04:49 PM
17

As a fan of both Fight Club and Calvin and Hobbes I am truly amazed that anyone that could actually believe that Ed Norton and Brad Pitt’s characters are INTENDED to be grown up versions of Calvin and Hobbes!

Fight Club is a black and intense film exploring the emptiness and shallowness of modern society. Calvin and Hobbes is a lighthearted and endearing comic that has looked at a million things - from some of life’s big questions to the idiosyncrasies of the characters. Brad Pitt’s Tyler was made imaginary to add an unexpected plot twist to the film, whereas Hobbes’ true nature is of no importance to the comic. Would it make any difference is Hobbes wasn’t imaginary, and actually did become real when he and Calvin were alone? The writer of the comic Bill Watterson does not belive it matters which is true, and actually uses the issue to make a point about life - “Calvin sees Hobbes one way, and everyone else sees Hobbes another way. I think that’s how life works. None of us sees the world in exactly the same way, and I just draw that quite literally in the strip.”

Other than the fact that both film and comic revolve around a male and his (possibly) imaginary friend, and make some (but not related) comments on life, C&H and Fight Club have absolutely nothing in common. Producing an elaborate story to explain how a good-natured stuffed tiger comes to be manifested as a psychotic dude with a plan for global chaos is frankly just laughable! As for your conversion of Calvin into Ed Norton’s character, I would explain how you can turn any kind of personality on its head when you have the power to invent the course of 25 years of their life, but I think your analogies of Marla Singer with Susie Derkins, and Moe the bully with Bob the fat guy does that for me! Sheesh…
_________________________________________________

And for the record Ed Norton’s character did have a name - it was Tyler. The reason for his anonymity through most of the film was not to give him an everyman quality but like I said, to give the film a big twist.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 26 May 05 at 05:08 PM
18

There is no connection. You are making it up, I promise.

Your logic is entirely convoluted. In order to justify your far-fetched theory, you construct “real world” frameworks to distort the characters far enough where they fit the mold that they occupy in each distant story.

You must be missing the point of Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin is not a deranged kid. His “inability” to show affection for Susie is not a psychological problem, but rather normal little boy behavior. His founding G.R.O.S.S. is not to reclaim his lost masculinity, but rather a game he plays. His relationship with Hobbes is not indicative of multiple personality disorder, but rather of great creativity. He does not invent Hobbes as a way of dealing with Susie, either. Hobbes does not have a crush on Susie. He just likes having his tummy rubbed (don’t you?).

Jack, on the other hand, is deranged. His inability to show affection for Marla does stem from a psychological problem. Hell, you could argue that his being attracted to Marla is indicative of some psychological problem. Fight Club is fouded as a way of reclaiming masculinity in a society which supposedly undervalues the penis. Not a way of making convoluted plans to drop water balloons on Marla Singer’s head.

And even if there were similar thematic elements, arguing that one stems directly from the other… even that one is a continuation of the other, is stupid.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 29 May 05 at 02:43 PM
19

Jeezuz’ - keed’s, it’s just a goddarn’ article. Don’t take it so seriously; I bet my arse it doesn’t take itself so! ;)

Calvin could go back in the card-box ‘ro time, but he’d still be as old and in the same-mindset. Plus, why-ever did he end in’rat job? Huh.

Posted by Jan Kåre "Sander" Østmark on 18 Aug 05 at 05:27 PM
20

Tyler and Hobbes (BASED ON YOUR EXPLANATION OF HOBBES) are completely opposite characters (except they’re both imaginary). Fight Club is for a common good. So is Project Mayhem. And in both of these organizations, women are “superior” - which is why men feel the need to overpower them and show the world what it is to be ‘free’ of MONEY. I don’t think GROSS is anything similar.

Tyler only wears that jacket cause it costs 3,800 US Dollars, mind you, that’s the whole point of the movie. The shirt he wears is unique to the movie, and it’s made out of plastic (like football jerseys) - costing a sheer 1,800 US Dollars. And the red leather jacket sells for 2,800 US Dollars…And the black one with three stripes sells for nothing short of 600 US Dollars.

Doesn’t symbolize anything else. Only money. And that Tyler doesn’t need money to get the stuff he needs, NO MATTER HOW EXPENSIVE.

Read the book, FIGHT CLUB.

It has a better ending, and a whole new explanation to why TYLER is TYLER, JACK is JACK and those two characters are out of the question…

By the way, Jack’s name is NOT Tyler.
It is NOT.
His name is Jack only because he is nothing. He became inexistant the moment he lost all his flaming little sh1t.

Yeah.
If you want to read the book, enter:
www.angelfire.com/vamp/firestarter2k/


Have fun,
SoF

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 22 Dec 05 at 08:47 PM
21

This was facking funny and you’re freaking psycho.

Keep up the good work.

Jim

Posted by Jim Rovira on 11 May 06 at 12:22 AM
22

Wow - you have way too much time on your hands to write something that long and involved - fantastic effort!! :) It was certainly an interesting theory to consider - certainly I could see Calvin being a real disturbed adult based on his view of world when he was a kid (you can read some of those strips at the Cool Calvin Collection)

Posted by Abe on 02 Aug 06 at 11:26 AM
23

Absolutely brilliant! I hope you don’t mind that I linked it to my blog at mfrtz.blogspot.com . By the way, that wasn’t a chameless plug, but I wanted to give you an opportunity to tell me to remove it. =o)

GREAT WORK!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 15 Aug 06 at 11:53 AM
24

I fail to take anything seriously when it’s source material is an adaptation of another source.  The movie Fight Club isn’t the source of the “world” of Fight Club, the book is.  The movie did a fairly good job of translating it, but it’s just a translation.  Taking your shallow connections and illogical statements aside, your source is faulty.  Anything that stems from that can’t be taken seriously.  It’s a kinda funny essay, but hopefully you didn’t do it to be taken seriously.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 28 Aug 06 at 03:05 PM
25

I think that the fur coat takes on a biblical context as well.  Tyler is very much a 21st century Christ, although a very unlikely and postmodern one.  We see similarities between Christ and Tyler in the fact that both have genuine compassion for mankind (although the way both men show it is strikingly different; Christ with fish, bread, forgiveness of sins, and children on his lap and Tyler with a gun in an alleyway to provide a better life).

Posted by ProExtender on 22 Apr 08 at 06:03 AM

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