Chuck Explains The Ending of Survivor
What really happened at the end of Survivor? I believed that Tender doesn't die. Fertility even says early on that he will be able to walk away from all this one day and live happily ever after. For Tender, living happily ever after means a few things. One, is that he would be with Fertility and that they would be able to have better sex. And since, she too is in Australia now, that will probably happen. The other, is that he will not be falsely viewed as a mass murderer by society. That he will be free to live without attention or harm. This means a testimony. A testimony that the public will believe.
Therefore, Fertility told him to tell his story into the black box. Tell it to the end and then you will be set free. Now Tender was not able to foresee his end. Living happily ever after for a Creed usually means, living in heaven. But many, many people survive plan crashes. Especially in a controlled descent like that. So I thought, Tender survived the crash. And, once his story, which was told while thinking he was definitely going to die, was heard, people had to believe him. They had to believe his innocence. I mean, who would lie while breathing their last words? And so, Tender gets the girl and the world forgives him after hearing his "true life account" from the black box.
According to Chuck, I was wrong....
The end of Survivor isn't nearly so complicated. It's noted on page 7(8?) that a pile of valuable offerings has been left in the front of the passenger cabin. This pile includes a cassette recorder. Even before our hero starts to dictate his story -- during the few minutes he's supposed to be taking a piss -- he's actually in the bathroom dictating the last chapter into the cassette recorder. It's just ranting, nothing important plot-wise, and it can be interrupted at any point by the destruction of the plane.
The minute the fourth engine flames out, he starts the cassette talking, then bails out, into Fertility's waiting arms (she's omniscient, you know). The rest of the book is just one machine whining and bitching to another machine. The crash will destroy the smaller recorder, but the surviving black box will make it appear that Tender is dead. - Chuck Palahniuk (via an email he sent me in 1999)