The Truman Show

The Truman Show Summary and Analysis of Chapter 10: Travelers Beware - Chapter 15: Father and Son Reunion


Truman is the only customer at the Seahaven travel agency. He tries to buy a ticket to Fiji leaving that very day, but the Travel Agent says there is nothing available for another month. Undiscouraged, Truman goes to the bus station and buys a ticket to Chicago. He gets on the back of the bus. A little girl recognizes him, but her mother silences her before she says anything. Truman sits in the back, waiting for the bus to depart, but the driver struggles to start the vehicle. It becomes clear that he does not really know how to drive, and soon, smoke billows out of the front of the bus. A man in a suit orders everyone to disembark, but Truman stays there. The driver tells Truman that he's sorry before leaving him alone on the bus.

Back in Truman's Bar, viewers discuss Truman's motivation to go to Chicago. The bartender insists that Truman can't go anywhere because he has to "have it out" with Meryl. She comes home to find Truman sitting in his car in their driveway. He instructs her to sit in the car, as he predicts the extras that are about to pass by in his rearview mirror. His energy is maniacal, paranoid, and he ignores Meryl's insistence that he's being silly. She tries to distract him, but he's not hearing it. She gives him permission to go to Fiji after a few months of saving but he locks the car door and says that they're going right now. He starts driving in circles while Meryl laughs nervously. At a certain point, they get stuck in traffic. Meryl tries to get him to turn around, so he reverses the car.

He speeds past their street and starts shrieking about going to New Orleans. This time, there is no traffic on the street. Cut to Truman's car stuck on the entry to the bridge. He's afraid of water, so he uses Meryl's hand and forces her to drive over the bridge. A sign flashes warnings of a forest fire, but he ignores it, and a fire actually ignites in the street. Truman drives through it, and Meryl continues to scream dissent. Later on down the road, Meryl switches tactics and tries to appeal to Truman's practical nature, wondering how they will afford life in New Orleans and threatens to call his mother.

They arrive at yet another roadblock - a leak at the Nuclear Power Plant. A police officer tells Truman and Meryl that the whole area is on lockdown and they must go back. However, he addresses Truman by name. Truman leaps out of the car and runs into the woods, trying to outrun men in silver HazMat suits. A group of them corner Truman in the woods and he tries to fight them off, but he is outnumbered.

Cut back to the Burbank home, where two officers warn a calm Meryl that next time, they will have to file charges against Truman. Truman, meanwhile, is seated at the kitchen table, slumped and broken. He asks Meryl why she wants to have a baby with him when she clearly doesn't like him. She picks up a box of cocoa and offers to make him some in the context of a sales pitch. This time, Truman doesn't fall for it - he wants to know who she is talking to this time.

Truman chases Meryl around, demanding to know what's happening. Meryl insists that he is having a nervous breakdown. She waves the "Chef's Pal" in his face and says he's scaring her. He taunts her, eventually grabbing her and holding the Chef's pal to her neck. Terrified, Meryl screams, "do something!" There is a knock at the door and Marlon comes in, holding a six-pack of beer. He is shocked to see Truman holding Meryl hostage in the darkness, and Truman finally lets her go. Meryl sobs into Marlon's shoulder, bawling that these conditions are "unprofessional!"

Late at night, Truman and Marlon sit together on the dock looking out at the water. Truman confesses that he might be losing his mind, but he knows that something is wrong. Marlon tries to rationalize Truman's feelings, suggesting that his paranoia might be a symptom of his wishing he'd made something more of himself. He frames Truman's suspicions as delusions of grandeur. Truman is not susceptible, though. Marlon describes their history together and reminds Truman of their camaraderie. Their memories are real, and Marlon tells Truman that he's the closest thing he's ever had to a brother.

Cut to a tracking shot showing the nervous faces of the Truman Show producers, revealing that Christof is actually telling Marlon what to say through an earpiece. Marlon promises that he will never lie to Truman and assures him that his paranoia is unfounded. However, he tells Truman, he was right about one thing. The two men stand and see another man step out of the misty darkness. Marlon claims that he has located Truman's father, who is, indeed, alive. Truman is predictably emotional as he approaches the man, while Christof directs the scene down to the saturation of the fog and the camera angles. Viewers all over the world tear up as Truman and his father embrace. The music soars, and as Truman breaks into sobs, Christof raises his arms like a conductor taking a bow. The Truman Show staff celebrates, popping champagne and patting each other on the back.


In previous sections of the film, it has become clear that Christof rarely has to rely on physical barriers to keep Truman on the island because the most powerful weapon he wields is Truman's own fear. In this section of the film, however, Truman starts to overcome that fear and does his best to break away from the confines of his life. Now, Christof must engage his full arsenal, and succeeds in blocking Truman at every turn.

However, instead of breaking Truman down, Christof's megalomaniacal tantrums only fuel Truman's desire to discover the truth. Scholar Maurice Yacowar calls Truman "a realistically flawed human being in an over-controlled synthetic future." Truman might live in a fake world, but the complex web of emotions he has developed are totally real. Therefore, as he grows out of his childhood naïveté and starts to mature, he starts to overcome his fears in order to feel out his limits - as is human nature.

In the past, Truman has always been one step behind Christof, but since he saw "Kirk" on the street, he cannot let go of the nagging feeling that something is wrong. At this point, the audience of the show (and of the film) have no idea how much Truman knows. So Christof has no choice but to unleash an emotional grenade on Truman - and Marlon is simply the trusted messenger. The moment between Truman and Marlon is a brilliantly interwoven dance between truth and fiction. Truman is truly overcome, isolated by his paranoia and frustrated by his failed attempts to break away. Meanwhile, Marlon relies on their history in order to reassert the trust they share. While the memories that Marlon recalls are real, Christof is feeding Marlon's lines to him. Therefore, Marlon is no more than a puppet. He says he will never lie to Truman, but he is only a vessel for these words, which lose their meaning. More than Meryl, Marlon does seem to care about Truman on some level. Since Louis has been on "The Truman Show" for most of his life, it seems natural that some of the emotion behind his speech is real. This is possibly why Marlon is able to hang on to his character when Truman becomes erratic, but Meryl breaks.

Instead of experiencing the emotional reunion between Truman and his father from Truman's point of view, the (movie) audience watches it from Christof's monitors. Christof directs the scene as if he is conducting a symphony, knowing exactly how to maximize the emotional impact on the viewers. However, as the producers and viewers celebrate this unexpected plot twist, Truman has other plans, which Weir does not reveal until later. This goes to show that despite Christof, Meryl, and Louis' claims that "The Truman Show" is real, Christof still uses traditional television tricks to incite a certain reaction in his viewers - even if the show does not match what Truman himself is feeling.

The result of Christof's manipulative, melodramatic tactics is that like Truman, the viewers lose the ability to differentiate between reality and television. The audience members become just as much part of the story of The Truman Show as the cast of the show itself. However, Weir only shows the viewers as they relate to the show - while they are watching the show or talking about the show. Unlike Truman, these viewers have lives outside the show. Weir made this choice deliberately in order to show that "the viewers in [The Truman Show] are part of the monstrous exploitation of a person" (Johnston).

Weir also mentions that while he was editing The Truman Show, the news broke that Princess Diana of Wales had died in a car crash while being chased by a band of paparazzi. He draws the parallel between Diana and Truman - the consumers of the footage that the paparazzi were after are complicit in creating the monster that killed her. Similarly, at the end of the film, when Christof is ready to watch Truman die at sea rather than let him out of his grasp. Part of the reason that Christof is so confident in his heartless appraisal of the situation is that even if he lets Truman die, he knows that people will still be watching.