Study Guide

Pulp Fiction Language and Communication

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Language and Communication

Most people remember Pulp Fiction for its more violent or shocking scenes. But real fans know it's the dialogue that really makes the movie what it is. Critic Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said, "The best thing about Pulp Fiction, as with Tarantino's debut film, Reservoir Dogs, are its words. They flow in hip torrents that are both idiosyncratic and familiar from lowlife characters who love to talk and can erupt in entertaining riffs on any subject on no notice at all." (Source)

The characters are always talking, talking, talking. Jules and Vincent, Vincent and Mia, Butch and Fabienne—they talk about everything from pie to bank robberies to theology and French fast food. There's also a lot of talking about talking. Mia's concerned with all the mindless chit-chat in the world and thinks that being able to have comfortable silences is the sign of a good relationship. Ringo's impressed by the use of a telephone to rob a federal bank. Language is powerful, communication is important, and Tarantino really likes the F-word.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. When Jules and Vincent talk about Europe and hamburgers, is this the kind of dull, void conversation that Mia hates, or is there some purpose to it? 
  2. What are some examples where language is able to accomplish something that physical violence could not?
  3. There's usually a lot of talking before someone gets killed. How does this affect the violence when it does happen?

Chew on This

The characters' dialogue is meant to mirror the meaningless conversations in our daily lives.

Tarantino wants us to notice every single word his characters say because they all have meaning.

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