a death... hairball? Prepare... to evacuate soul

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Marla's just taken a number of the pills "Xanax", and thinks she might die. She calls her friend and talks to him:
MARLA: Have you ever heard a death rattle before? Do you think it'll live up to its name? Or will it just be a death... hairball? [makes a cough] Prepare... to evacuate soul.
Fight Club, movie

Could you please explain to me the boldfaced part?
Thanks.

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  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    He's referring to a cat choking up a hairball.
    The next part is separate referring to the soul leaving the body at the time of death as if it were a missile.
    Prepare to launch torpedo. Prepare to evacuate soul.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    He's referring to a cat choking up a hairball.
    The next part is separate referring to the soul leaving the body at the time of death as if it were a missile.
    Prepare to launch torpedo. Prepare to evacuate soul.
    I still don't understand the whole idea:)

    I mean, I know what "hairball" is, but "a death hairball", in this context, what does it refer to? The Xanax in her stomach? Or death itself?

    Then, in the last phrase, she seems to be shifting back to "death" again... It's confusing... Is "prepare" the imperative mood?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    A death rattle is a sort of a choking sound. The "death ... hmm, what makes a sort of choking sound that will sound clever... hairball" is like a death rattle but more like the sound of a cat choking up a hairball.
    Yes, "Prepare to launch torpedo." is an order that the captain of a submarine gives to his crew.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you.
    I rewatched the scene, and I think a little more context would be useful.

    In the OP scene, she thinks she's talking to the narrator, while actually it's now Tyler who's listening to her after the narrator left the phone receiver off the phone. In the previous scene, she asks the narrator while he's on the phone, if he wants to wait and hear her describe death, listen and see if her spirit can use a phone.

    Then, when Tyler picks the receiver, and when she says the OP part, she makes a cough after the word "hairball" (edited in the OP). And after the word "evacuate", we hear her count-down (9... 8... 7... etc), while we see Tyler heading for her place, like, to save her.

    So, considering all this, I think she wanted the narrator to come to her place to see her dying and hear her "death rattle". But the phrase "Or will it just be a death... hairball?" implies that she may not die eventually though, she may just get away with it.

    Does that make sense?
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    You mean that the hairball is less than a rattle and therefore she will not die? It does seem as if she's putting on an act. On the other hand, my normal interpretation is that she's being slightly coy and ironic but still wants to communicate that she may actually die. Only it won't be seriously dramatic, merely cheap and melodramatic. Hard to say, though.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    We've heard of death rattles, but most of us haven't actually heard one. She's wondering whether, when she produces one, it will be as dramatic/impressive as she hopes or it will be something lame like a hairball cough.
     

    Trochfa

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I may be reading this slightly differently. A death rattle is a gurgling, choking noise, which Marla believes sounds like a dramatic way to exit this world. She is then saying "or will it just a be a death with nothing dramatic about it at all, except a cough like coughing up a hairball before your soul is launched into the next world."

    [Cross-posted]
     
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