Study Guide

Pulp Fiction Summary

Pulp Fiction Summary

Pulp Fiction is a collection of stories, which, although interconnected, can get a bit confusing because they're shown out of order. Tarantino evidently took the advice of legendary film director Jean-Luc Godard, one of his idols, who said that "A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order." But not to worry, Shmoop will take you through all the action chronologically…or as close to it as we can get.

Warning: there will be blood.

The movie begins with the two gangsters, Jules and Vincent, headed off on an early morning mission to claim a briefcase with some important contents that belongs to their boss, Marsellus. They talk about Vincent's recent travels in Europe and how Marsellus almost killed a guy for massaging his wife's feet.

Uh…okay.

When they arrive at their destination, they confront the young drug dealers who've apparently tried to mess with Marsellus and keep the briefcase. Jules and Vincent shoot two of them as their informer, Marvin, cowers in the corner. A fourth kid pops out of the bathroom (because why not) and empties a clip at them but misses. Jules takes this as a sign of divine intervention.

On the drive back to return the briefcase to Marsellus, Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin in the head in the middle of a discussion about Jules' divine intervention theory.

You read that right: he accidentally shoots him in the head. That's a thing.

They drive to the home of Jimmie, a "friend" of Jules. Marsellus sends his professional problem solver, The Wolf, to clean up the mess. The Wolf succeeds in getting the boys out of Jimmie's hair and disposes of the car and the body before Jimmie's wife gets home.

While we're on the topic, if anyone ever calls themselves a problem solver…run.

Jules and Vincent decide to stop at a diner for breakfast, where Jules tells Vincent that he's quitting his life of crime because of the way his life was divinely spared. After they return the briefcase, he's done; he plans to "walk the earth." The diner's about to be robbed by Ringo and Yolanda, small-time crooks who we see chatting about how robbing a bank or a diner makes so much more sense than the liquor stores they've been holding up. But when Ringo makes his way over to Jules, Jules disarms him and then tries to talk some sense into Ringo and into himself. He lets Ringo off with his own money and a life lesson. Aw.

Then it's off to Marsellus where they see the boss just finishing up a conversation with a boxer, Butch. Butch takes Marsellus' money in exchange for agreeing to fix his next boxing match by going down in the fifth round. Vincent's next assignment is to keep Marsellus' wife Mia company that evening while the boss is away on business. This is a very risky proposition; remember the rumor about the guy who got thrown out the window? Yeah.

Before he heads over to her place, he buys some heroin and shoots up. Because that's just what happens in Pulp Fiction. Then he takes her to a '50s diner where they have some burgers and enter a twist competition. Vincent is very attracted to Mia, and when they get back to her house, he goes into the bathroom to remind himself to keep his hands off her. While he's in there, Mia overdoses by snorting some of Vincent's heroin, which she thought was cocaine. Vincent drives her to Lance's (his drug dealer) house where they revive a dying Mia with a dramatic adrenaline shot to the heart.

Oof.

The next day, Butch wakes up from a dream/memory of receiving his great grandfather's watch from a captain who was a POW with his father. We don't see Butch's fight, but he KOs his opponent in the first round, defying Marsellus' orders. He flees the scene into a waiting taxi, where the driver informs him that the guy he knocked out died. The taxi takes him to a motel, where his girlfriend Fabienne is waiting for him. She picked up some stuff from Butch's apartment in preparation for fleeing town.

When Butch wakes up in the morning, he realizes Fabienne forgot his very important watch, so he risks going back to his apartment to retrieve it. While there, he sees a gun on the counter, and he hears someone flush the toilet. When that someone—Vincent—comes out of the bathroom, Butch (surprise!) shoots him and then gets out. But as he's driving back, he happens upon Marsellus walking back to Butch's apartment stakeout with coffee and donuts. Butch tries to run him over and ends up crashing into another car. In case you wanted more blood.

Both Marsellus and Butch are pretty hurt, but Marsellus doesn't care. He chases Butch until Butch ducks into a pawn shop. Marsellus follows but is caught off-guard by Butch, who's about to kill him when the pawn shop owner pulls out a shotgun and clocks him a good one. When Marsellus and Butch wake up, they're tied up in the shop basement by Maynard, the sicko shop owner, and his equally sicko buddy Zed.

Maynard and Zed decide to rape Marsellus first. Butch is able to escape and is about to hit the road when he has second thoughts about rescuing Marsellus. He turns around, grabs a samurai sword from the pawnshop, and goes into the back room of the basement. He slices up Maynard and gives Marsellus enough time to castrate Zed with a shotgun. Marcellus says they're even so long as he doesn't tell anyone about this and leaves town immediately and permanently. Butch jumps on Zed's motorcycle, grabs his girl, and gets out of town.

The end.

Whew.