Study Guide

Pulp Fiction Violence

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YOLANDA: I love you, Pumpkin.

RINGO: I love you, Honey Bunny. (they look lovingly at each other) Everybody be cool! This is a robbery!

YOLANDA: Any of you f***in' pricks move and I'll execute every motherf***ing last one of you!

Nothing like bonding over an early morning coffee and a stick-up. Tarantino loves these kinds of juxtapositions of ordinary conversation and violent action. It's what gives these scenes some humor. You don't expect it.

BRETT: (to Jules) Look, what's your name? I got his name's Vincent, but what's yours?

JULES: My name's Pitt, and you ain't talkin' your ass outta this s***.

BRETT: I just want you to know how sorry we are about how f***ed up things got between us and Mr. Wallace. When we entered into this thing, we only had the best intentions…

(Jules takes out his gun and shoots Roger in the chest, knocking him out of his chair.)

We figured that that whoever was in the apartment was going to get shot, but the extended dialogue preceding the scene casts some doubt on that. Maybe if the kids say the right thing, Vincent and Jules will take the briefcase and leave, satisfied with just scaring them to death. It ends up being a particularly violent scene because of the suddenness and unexpected timing of the shooting. It gets worse. Jules continues to taunt and torture Brett before he and Vincent empty their guns at him. There was never gonna be no mercy.

ESMARELDA: What does it feel like?

BUTCH: What does what feel like?

ESMARELDA: Killing a man. Beating another man to death with your bare hands.

BUTCH: Are you some kinda weirdo?

ESMARELDA: No, it's a subject I have much interest in. You are the first person I ever met who has killed somebody. So, what was it like to kill a man?

BUTCH: I couldn't tell ya. I didn't know he was dead 'til you told me he was dead. Now I know he's dead, do you wanna know how I feel about it? I don't feel the least little bit bad.

Butch's response to Floyd's death, although it was unintentional, is very cold-hearted. Butch has a plan and nothing's going to get in his way. This scene makes his later scenes with Fabienne very tense and very surprising.

BUTCH: If you had a pot belly, I'd punch you in it.

FABIENNE: You'd punch me in my belly?

BUTCH: Right in the belly.

FABIENNE: I'd smother you. I'd drop it right on your face 'til you couldn't breathe.

Butch and Fabienne are just joking around, flirting with each other. Contextually it's all fun and games but it's interesting how violent imagery has seeped into Butch's love life. He's a fighter—he punches people for a living.

(After Brett is killed, the guy hiding with a gun in the bathroom bursts through the door screaming "Die you motherf***ers! Die!" while unloading his revolver at them. He misses every shot and after a moment of shock from Vincent and Jules, they return fire, killing him.)

We never really find out who these kids are, but they were in way over their heads dealing with a gangster like Marsellus. The kid who bursts out of the bathroom, firing away, is beyond in over his head thinking he can take on professional killers. We guess he figured it was his only option after hearing all the gunshots. Jules and Vincent coolly gun him down.

(The rape scene.)

This is by far the most disturbing scene in a movie where some other very disturbing things happen. Part of what makes it so violent is that the victim is the mysterious gang boss that has seemed all-powerful and untouchable up until Butch almost runs him over. Both Butch and Marsellus seem indestructible until they're degraded in the worst way possible, completely helpless against the sexual violence of the deranged Zed and Maynard.

MARSELLUS: I'm gonna call a couple pipe- hittin' n*****s, who'll go to work on homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. Hear me talkin' hillbilly boy?! I ain't through with you by a damn sight. I'm gonna git medieval on your ass.

Marsellus is a connoisseur of violence. He's got all kinds of ways to send a bloody message. 

VINCENT: Marvin, what do you make of all this?

MARVIN: I don't even have an opinion.

VINCENT: C'mon, Marvin. Do you think God came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets?

(Vincent's gun goes off. The bullet strikes Marvin's head, killing him, and spraying blood everywhere.)

When you read the scene like this, it sounds horrific, but if you remember watching it then you know it's actually funny. Huh? How can this graphic killing of an innocent young man be funny? It's about the context of the killing, the casual conversation, the shocking suddenness and, most importantly, Vincent and Jules' reactions. They act like Vincent accidentally spilled his morning coffee all over the car seat, not shot some poor kid.

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