Even non-linear films have some kind of structure. We can clearly see that from Pulp fiction -Hero’s journey breakdown which is perfectly crafted by the author in the book -The writers Journey. so, here is Pulp fiction -Hero’s journey breakdown into its 12 stages.
If you are not familiar with the 12 stages of hero’s journey here is a quick overview to get you through the post-
HONEY BUNNY AND PUMPKIN
In pulp fiction’s opening segment titled “prologue”, two young people sit talking in a “normal Denny’s, Spires- like coffee shop in Los Angles.” What could be more ordinary that this world? However, it turns out this young man (pumpkin) and woman (Honey Bunny) are discussing the pros and cons of various forms of armed robbery. It’s a different kind of ORDINARY WORLD, an underworld of low- level criminals, a world most of us would rather not think about. It’s too horrifying to consider that all around us are legions of dull-witted crooks waiting for their chance to rob us or kill us, perhaps sitting right across from us in our favorite ‘50s coffee shop.
CALL TO ADVENTURE/ REFUSAL
Pumpkin’s first words are “No, forget it, it’s too risky. I’m through doin’ that shit.” These are characteristics of clear REFUSAL to a CALL TO ADVENTURE.
But what was the CALL TO ADVENTURE? What is the call to adventure in Pulp fiction-hero’s journey breakdown?
Apparently Honey Bunny has just issued a CALL by proposing they rob another liquor store, their line of crime until now (their ORDINARY WORLD). While demeaning Asians and Jews who run liquor stores, the English-accented Pumpkin talks himself and Honey Bunny into robbing the restaurant, where there are no security guards or cameras, and where the employees have no need to play hero.
He evokes a MENTOR of sorts, referring to the story of a bank robbery in which the robbers used terror and trickery to seize control.
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD
Working each other into a frenzy, pumpkin and his daffy girlfriend CROSS THE THRESHOLD, waving their guns, bringing the possibility of instant death into play. Then with a swirl of retro surfer music, we are thrown into the main titles and the body of the movie.
The filmamakers intention is to leave you a bit disoriented and with a cliffhanger as to what’s to occur next. You’re also left guessing about the fate of these hotheads and the people in the restaurant.
VINCENT AND JULES
Now for the first time, we see out two protagonists, Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield, driving in a big American car. They, too, are in their ORDINARY WORLD having a mundane conversation about the subtle differences in fast-food menus and customs in the countries of Europe. Vincent has spent some time in Europe where things are different – a Big mac is called le big mac in France, and the rules about drugs in Amsterdam are different. He has been to a SPECIAL WORLD and has the experienced air of a hero reliving a previous adventure.
Vincent and Jules stop at an apartment building and take guns from the trunk of their car. The feeling is that this is just another day at the office for them, a routine job in their ordinary world.
CALL TO ADVENTURE
As they approach the apartment to perform their mission, the conversation turns to Mia, wife of their criminal boss Marsellus Wallace (Mr. Big), this is the first note of a CALL TO ADVENTURE for Vincent, who has been put in difficult position of being asked by Marsellus to escort his wife on a date while he’s in Florida.
REFUSAL OF THE CALL-
The danger of this call is made clear (A form of REFUSAL) in the complex philosophical discussion about foot massage. Jules points out that a Samoan gangster named Antwan Rockamora was thrown off his balcony into a greenhouse just for giving Mia a foot rub. Jules thinks the punishment was out of proportion to the crime, but Vincent understands very well that a foot massage could be a sensual experience and could get you killed. In pulp fiction- hero’s journey breakdown, the refusal of the call is the strong boundary set for Vincent which he dare not cross. Nonetheless he has accepted the call and will be Mia’s escort. He promises not to get in trouble with Mia and denies that it will even be a real date, but Jules is skeptical.
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD
After a long pause at the door, they CROSS A THRESHOLD, entering the apartment of Three young guys “obviously in over their heads.” They have something which Marsellus Wallace wants, and apparently they have tried to stiff him in a deal for the contents of the mysterious briefcase.
Jules, menacingly standing over the leader, Brett, intimidates him by eating his fast food and questioning him about what restaurant he bought it from. It’s not a wendy’s or McDonald’s Hamburger, it’s a Big Kahuna burger.
Kahuna is Hawaiian magic, so it suggests big magic coming. Certainly there is magic in the briefcase, whose glowing contents hypnotize Vincent when he opens it to check on them.
What’s in the briefcase? It doesn’t matter because it’s just a MacGuffin, and in keeping with the Hitchcock tradition, Tarintino never bothers to say what it really is. It’s enough that it’s something of importance to the characters, some- thing worth the risk of dying for. It’s a Holy Grail or a Golden Fleece, a symbol of all the desires that draw heroes into quests.
Confronting the terrified young men, Vincent and Jules are acting at this moment as the allies of Death. They are agents of Nemesis, the goddess of retribution, who bring punishment on those who offend the orders of the gods. The god in this case is Marsellus Wallace. Brett and Roger have offended Mr. Big by trying to cheat him in the deal for the briefcase.
Jules makes his power manifest by shooting Roger without Provocation. Before executing Brett, Jules performs a ritual, (the super famous monologue) reciting the Bible passage from the Ezekiel 25:17 which is his trademark.
“the Path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and finder of lost children. And I will strike upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brother. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.”
This, in effect, is a statement of the theme of the movie, a complex statement that can be interpreted in many ways.
On this reading, Jules seems to identify with only part of the message, the part about “great vengeance and furious anger,” for he and Vincent empty their guns into Brett when the speech is done.
Then a miracle occurs. While Jules’ friend Marvin, who has been there all along, mutters in a corner, A fourth young man bursts out of the bathroom, firing away at Jules and Vincent with a heavy handgun. The miracle is that the bullets seem to have no effect. The young man is blown off his feet by the return fire from Jules and Vincent.
In Pulp fiction- hero’s journey breakdown- This sequence establishes the ordinary world for the protagonists of this thread of the story. They are enforcers for a powerful gangster, a notch or two above the level of the 2 kids in the coffee shop, but not as far above. They are trying to work out an ethical system between them, and are concerned about the limits of honor and duty. The twin heroes are traveling down the same road so far, but their paths are about to split because of their different reactions to the miracle that has just occurred.
VINCENT VEGA AND MARSELLUS WALLCE’S WIFE
A title card now establishes that the prologue or framing device is over and the first of the pulp fiction short stories is about to begin.
But before bringing Vincent and Mia together, the storytellers introduce two new characters, Marcellus Wallace and butch Coolidge, projecting ahead to butch’s story thread. Marcellus, described as sounding like “a cross between a gangster and a king,” sits talking to Butch, a knocked-around prize-fighter. In pulp fiction- hero’s journey breakdown- Butch is in his ORDINARY WORLD, getting a dark CALL to throw a fight.
Marcellus is the MENTOR, godlike, seen only from behind, possessed of a MENTOR’s wisdom and a definite philosophy of life.
Marsellus counsels butch to swallow his pride and give up his shot at being featherweight champion of the world in return for the sure thing. Butch doesn’t hesitate before accepting his CALL to throw the fight. He takes the money unhesitatingly, he seems to be accepting the call, but in fact, as we later learn, he is planning to REFUSE this particular call, intending instead to win the fight and collect big money by betting on himself.
Vincent and Jules enter with the briefcase, but are dressed quite differently that in the previous scene. They wear T-shirts and shorts, which look a little out of place in the bar. Later we’ll see that several days have passed since we last see Vincent and Jules. And they have been through several major ORDEALS.
Vincent clashes with Butch, mocking him as a washed-up palooka, in a confrontation typical of the TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES phase.
Vincent throws a challenge, which Butch refuses to rise to. The chance encounter with Butch is a TEST which shows a flaw in Vincent, a lack of respect for his elders. He should know that butch is an experienced hero, a potential MENTOR who could teach him a few things, but instead he makes fun of him. Butch’s REFUSAL to rise to this challenge shows that he is mature and careful. He sees that Vincent is a friend of Marsellus and wisely decides to let it ride – For now.
The thread now follows Vincent, who has previously received the Call to take Mia on a date. In keeping with the criminal underworld theme, Vincent approaches his own kind of MENTOR– his drug dealer, Lance – before CROSSING THE THRESHOLD to deal with MIA. In pulp fiction- hero’s journey breakdown-The Mentor’s lair is an old house in Echo Park. This Mentor, like a shaman equipping a hunter with magic potions and healing herbs, presents an array of heroin options for Vincent’s selection. Vincent pays top dollar for the strongest stuff.
Vincent shoots up and cruises over in a blissful Daze to pick up Mia. Vincent CROSSES A THRESHOLD as he enters Marsellus’ house.
Inside Mia operates in the godlike realm of Mr. Like Mr. Big in many noir movies, she watches from a hidden upper room, manipulating Vincent by remote control with her disembodied voice. The rules of this special world are different in the pulp fiction- hero’s journey breakdown. In Vincent’s ORDINARY WORLD, he and his gun are the absolute rulers. Here, a barefoot woman holds the power of life and death. She calls the tune and selects the theme music for the evening.
TEST ALLIES AND ENEMIES
Moving further into the SPECIAL WORLD, Vincent takes Mia to the strange 50’s café for a TEST, ALLIES, ENEMIES scene. Jackrabbit Slim’s is a model of postmodern world, in which images of the recent past are continually chopped up, recycle, and harnessed to new tasks. Legendary faces like Marilyn monoroe, Elvis, and buddy Holly are reduced to waiting tables and delivering Hamburgers.
In a typical Hero’s journey Stage Six bar scene, Mia and Vincent TEST each other out. Menu choices assume great importance as clues to character.
Phallic cigarettes are rolled and ignited. They get the measure of one another through cool but probing dialogue. Vincent boldly TESTS Mia by asking about her relationship with the fellow who was thrown out of the window. He passes TESTS by asking diplomatically, without assuming she was in the wrong. They become allies.
They are linked in another way, revealed when MIA get ups to “powder her nose,” in fact, to snort cocaine.
APPROACH TO THE INMOST CAVE
The Cue to enter the dance contest is an APPROACH, moving them a step closer to the life-and-death matter of sex. From the way they groove together on the dance floor, it’s clear they would have fantastic sex . It’s sort of an APPROACH to love (a forbidden love).
Vincent and MIA return to her house to face a SUPREME ORDEAL. Mia is looking very seductive, and Vincent retires to the bathroom to steel himself.
He talks to his image in the mirror, convincing himself not to have sex with Mia. In this area, at least, he passes an important TEST, remaining loyal to his boss despite strong temptation. His motivation may not be so noble – he knows Marsellus will probably find out and kill him if he does fool around with MIA- but he passes the TEST nonetheless.
Meanwhile Mia finds Vincent’s heroin in his coat, mistaking it for cocaine, snorts it greedily and passes out.
Vincent finds her with blood running from her nose and panics. Here Vincent is not just facing Mia’s death, but also his own – for he will surely be killed if MIA dies. It was his heroin, his weakness, that caused the problem, along with Mia’s lust for sensation.
REWARD, THE ROAD BACK, RESURRECTION & RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR
In the pulp fiction- hero’s journey breakdown, Vincent races to his Mentor’s house (THE ROAD BACK) where a frantic search for a medical book, a marker pen, and a huge adrenaline needle commences.
Vincent digs deep for the hero’s courage to plunge the needle into Mia’s heart.
In a weird reversal of the classic scene from Vampire movies, driving a stake into her heart is actually the way to bring her abruptly back to life, a RESURRECTION.
Vincent returns Mia to her house where, pale and wan, she gives him a kind of (REWARD), a feeble joke from the TV pilot she appeared in.
They part with ELIXIR, a sense of friendship and mutual respect arising from sharing an ORDEAL together. They promise each other they won’t tell Marsellus what Happened. You get the feeling that if anything ever happened to Marsellus Wallce, these two would probably get together.
ORDINARY WORLD/ CALL TO ADVENTURE
The story now switches to another thread, the hero’s journey of butch, the boxer. It takes us back to Butch’s early ORDINARY WORLD, a scene from his childhood in suburbia, were he watches a speed racer cartoon on TV in 1972.
In the pulp fiction- hero’s journey breakdown- A CALL TO ADVENTURE is issued by a MENTOR, captain koon, the AIR Force officer who brings the gold watch that belonged to his father and forefathers.
In a long monologue Koons describes the watch’s tradition of being carried by American soldiers in Butch’s family. He relates the ORDEAL that he and Butch’s father endured in the Vietnamese prison camp. The watch becomes an emblem of many tradition that connects it to symbols like the magic swords that heroes inherited from their fathers. However, we’re brought crashing back to reality with the earthly detail of where Butch’s father hid the watch five years, and captain koons used a similar hiding place for two years after BUTCH’s father died. Fulfilling the DONOR function of a MENTOR the officer gives the watch to butch.
We’re then thrown back to the present where we see Butch getting another CALL– this time his manager calling him into the ring for the fight he’s supposed to throw.
“THE GOLD WATCH”
A title card now makes it clear we are taking up a major thread of another Hero’s journey. We find out, though the radio that plays in the taxicab outside, that instead of throwing the fight as agreed with Marsellus, Butch has won the fight and killed the other boxer. He has refused Marsellus’ CALL, but has answered other calls- the CALL of his own spirit to fight well, and the CALL of temptation to cheat Marsellus and collect a lot of money.
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD, TESTS ALLIES AND ENEMIES
Butch CROSSES A THRESHOLD as he leaps from a window into a dumpster. He boards the cab and begins stripping off the attributes of a prizefighter, leaving this part of his life behind.
In a TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES scene, his attitude is probed through his conversation with Esmerelda Villalobos, the woman cabdriver from Columbia, she explains her name has a beautiful, poetic meaning (“ Esmerelda of the wolves” ), and Butch says his name, like most American names, doesn’t mean anything.
She is morbidly curious about what it feels like to kill a man. Instead of horrifying her, it seems to turn her on. Everything is relative. Butch himself offers a rationalization for having killed the other boxer. If he was a better fighter, he’d be alive. In the pulp fiction- hero’s journey breakdown- Butch makes an ALLY of Esmerelda and wins her promise to tell the police she never saw him.
By his actions he has made ENEMIES of Marsellus Wallace and his crew. We see Marsellus sending his minions to hunt down BUTCH, all the way to indo-china if necessary.
APPROACH (TO THE INMOST CAVE)-
In an APPROACH Phase, Butch makes a phone call to check on his winnings. He goes to his French girlfriend, Fabienne, at a motel and they make plans to skip the country once he’s collected his money.
Their flirtatious talk, Characteristic of intimate APPROACH scenes, seems to be more of the seemingly banal chatter that marks the early scenes between Vincent and Jules. It has the same sense of cultural relativity and differing value systems. Here the distinctions are along genre lines, as the girlfriend tries to make Butch understand her precise attitudes about potbellies on women. They make love and the night ends with a false sense that all will be well.
A new and immediate CALL TO ADVENTURE is sounded the next morning as BUTCH discovers she has failed to retrieve his father’s watch from the apartment. Without consulting any mentors, he overcomes his fear of being caught by Marsellus and goes to get the watch. Driving to his apartment, he is CROSSING THE THRESHOLD into a SPECIAL WORLD of increased danger.
After a careful APPROACH to his apartment, Butch takes possession of the watch, (REWARD) SEIZING THE SWORD. However, he encounters a THRESHOLD Guardian sent by MARSELLUS to kill him. It’s Vincent, who has been reading a book in the bathroom. Foolishly, in a fatal, tragic mistake Vincent has underestimated his opponent, and has left his gun sitting on the kitchen counter.
Butch hears the toilet flush, grabs the gun, and kills Vincent.
In the pulp fiction- hero’s journey breakdown, this plot is a near- death ORDEAL for butch, but it’s the tragic CLIMAX for Vincent, who has been brought down by one of his flaws – his disrespect for his elders. He is punished with true poetic justice, and in a humiliating way, being caught gunless while exiting the toilet. We don’t know it yet, but Vincent also appears to be paying the price for having denied a miracle – the miracle of escaping the bullets of the fourth young man in the earlier scene.
His death at this point seems like divine punishment for having refused to acknowledge divine intervention.
REWARD, THE ROAD BACK, RESURRECTION & RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR
With the REWARD of the watch in his pocket, butch hits THE ROAD BACK, trying to get to his girlfriend.
ON the way, he literally runs into his SHADOW, Marsellus, ramming him with the car when he sees Marsellus crossing the street.
However, butch is also injured and dazed when his car collides with another car, a quick REVERSAL. MARSELLUS, appearing dead to a bystander, comes back to life ( RESURRECTION) and staggers towards BUTCH with a gun.
BUTCH wobbles into the “Mason-Dixon gunshop” and Marsellus follows him (a CHASE typical of the ROAD back). Butch punches Marsellus and is about to kill him when he’s stopped by the gunshop owner, Maynard, who is armed with a shotgun.
Butch and Marsellus don’t realize they’ve stumbled into an INMOST CAVE more sinister than anything they have encountered, an underworld beneath the underworld in which they live. Maynard knocks out Butch and summons his brother Zed, like him, a SHADOW projection of the worst aspects of white American male culture. Marsellus and Butch wake up, chained and gagged with S&M gear, in the still deeper cave of the dungeon beneath the store.
Zed brings up a leather- clad creature, the gimp, from a still deeper pit beneath the floor. Whether he is their retarded brother or a poor victim driven mad by their torture.
The Gimp suggests the horrors that await Marsellus and Butch. Marsellus is chosen to be the first victim of the evil brothers’ sadistic attention, and is taken into a room once occupied by another victim, Russell. There is a sense in this adventure that others have gone before and have not won their round with death.
Butch hears the sounds of two brothers raping Marsellus, a terrible ORDEAL that brings death to Marsellus’ manhood. (In these scenes, again, is a sense of relativity.
No matter how harshly we may have judged Marsellus and Butch for their behavior, there are still worse villians in the lower circles of hell. Marsellus and Butch look like villain or SHADOWS from society’s point of view, but compared to the denizens of the gunshop they are heroes.
Butch sees an opportunity and escapes, punching out THE GIMP, who falls limp and hangs himself on his leash.
Butch escapes upstairs and actually has his hand on the door, ready to leave, but has a crisis of conscience. He decides to make a true hero’s SACRFICE, risking his life by returning to rescue Marsellus, even though he knows Marsellus wants to kill him for not throwing the fight. He selects a samurai (Tarintno’s favorite killing prop) sword from the many weapons at hand (literally SIEZING THE SWORD), and descends once again into the INMOST CAVE for his ultimate ORDEAL.
Butch kills Myanard, and Marsellus grabs a shotgun, shooting ZED in the groin.
Marsellus is free, having rebounded from almost certain death, a RESURRECTION. Butch’s heroic action balances the moral books for Butch’s killing of the other boxer. Marsellus is TRANSFORMED by the experience, and grants a BOON to butch, sparing his life and allowing him to escape so long as he promises not to tell anyone what happened, and to stay away from Los Angeles. Then he calls upon a MENTOR, Mr. Wolf, for help in cleaning up the situation.
Butch SIEZES A SWORD, so to speak, taking the motorcycle that belonged to one of the monstrous bikers. On this steed the hero takes THE ROAD BACK to collect his fair lady. Although he may not be able to collect the ELIXIR of the gambling money, the hero has been rewarded with a greater ELIXIR of life.
He rides off with Fabienne on the motorcycle, which bears the significant name of “Grace,” an ELIXIR granted to those who make the right moral choices on the Hero’s journey.
“THE BONNIE SITUATION”
REWARD, THE ROAD BACK, RESURRECTION & RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR
Now the thread of Vincent and Jules is picked up again as the moment when Jules recites his Bible passage in the apartment of the Young Men, and we hear the scriptures for a second time. The Young Man bursts out shooting at them, clearly a death-dealing ORDEAL. By rights they should be dead, but somehow they survive and the bullets pock the wall all around them.
The two young men react quite differently to their brush with death, Vincent dismisses it as a lucky break or coincidence, but Jules has an apotheosis. He is deeply moved and recognizes it as a miracle, an act of god, a sign which requires a change in attitude. Their reaction is a kind of TEST, one which Vincent appears to fail and Jules appears to pass with flying colors. Jules wins a REWARD from the experience, a greater spiritual awareness, but Vincent gets nothing out of it.
(The fact that we have already seen Butch kill Vincent makes this scene a kind of RESURRECTION for Vincent; we have seen him die, but now we see him alive again. This is another manifestation of the fractured postmodern time sense, which says the notion of linear time is an arbitrary convention.
On THE ROAD BACK from this death- and –rebirth moment, Vincent makes a deadly error, again due to his flaw of lack of respect. He has insufficient respect for the tools of death, and waving the gun around in the car, accidently puts a bullet through the head of their accomplice Marvin in the backseat.
Jules recognizes that this must be cleaned up and drives to the house of his friend and ALLY, Jimmy Dimmick, played by Quentin Tarintino. He appears to be a middle- class fellow whose connection to the criminal world is never specified. He is worried about the moral Wrath of his wife, Bonnie, who will soon be returning home from the night shift.
Here the filmmaker is creating contrast between the criminal underworld and the bourgeois world in which most of us live. The joke is that they are more afraid of Bonnie’s irritation than of the danger of the law coming down on them for manslaughter.
Jules and Vincent try to clean themselves up, but are only partially successful. Jules scolds Vincent for getting blood all over the guest towels, another sign that Vincent is careless and disrespectful, traits which we know will get him killed. He is in danger of turning another ALLY, jimmy into and ENEMY.
Jules calls Marsellus for help, and he in turn summons a MENTOR and ALLY in the form of Winston Wolf, played by Harvey Keitel. His name links him with Esmerelda Villalobos, esmerelda of the wolves, an Ally in another thread of the story. They fulfil some of the same functions performed by Animal helpers in many folktales.
Wolf appears to be specialist in problem solving, experienced at getting rid of inconvenient evidence. He arrives at supernatural speed and takes charge of the problem, issuing orders authoritatively.
However, once again Vincent is disrespectful of his elders, and balks at being ordered around. Wolf handles it with humor but also unquestionable authority, making it clear that Vincent should not make an ENEMY of his ALLY.
Wolf surprises as Vincent and Jules cleanse the bloody car.
The whole sequence is a protracted RESURRECTION for the young men, in which they and their vehicle are purified before the RETURN. Meanwhile Jimmy has to make a SACRIFICE, surrendering sheets and towels.
For the cleanup, but WOLF promptly compensates him with a REWARD of money for a new furniture.
Then, acting precisely like a shaman putting warriors through a cleansing ordeal of RESURRECTION, Wolf orders Vincent and Jules to strip off their bloody clothes. He makes Jimmy hose them down with icy water as they soap themselves clean of the blood.
Next Jimmy issues them new clothing, significantly, Boyish shorts and T-Shirts. They look like schoolboys or college kids instead of tough gangsters.
Like returning hunters, they have been put through a death-and-rebirth ritual that makes them innocent children again. Now they can re-enter the ORDINARY WORLD cleansed of the death they have faced and dealt with. Through- out, they have hung onto the mysterious briefcase, an ELIXIR which they brought back from the ORDEAL in the yuppie apartment.
Wolf escorts them to an auto graveyard where the body and the car will be disposed of. He says farewell and goes off with his young Girlfriend Raquel, daughter of the junkyard owner, showing how experienced Mentor enjoys his ELIXIR, won through “correct” behavior by the rules of this movie’s universe. He compliments Jules for showing respect to his elders, a sign of character.
REWARD, THE ROAD BACK, RESURRECTION & RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR
Finally, the narrative returns to the original scene. In the Diner for the Epilogue, the last word on the subject. While Pumpkin and Honey bunny plan their stickup, Jules and Vincent review what had happened. Vincent, typically, tries to dismiss it, but Jules insists they have seen a miracle today.
He resolves to live his life differently from now on, “Walking the Earth” like Cain in the TV series “Kung Fu.” This seems to mean wandering about doing good and seeking peace rather than living a criminal life. He has truly been through a Moral RESURRECTION and transformation. Vincent doesn’t value any of this and gets up to go to the bathroom, the same action that ultimately gets him killed.
As a final TEST of Jules’ resolve, Pumpkin and honey Bunny start screaming and waving their guns around. Pumpkin tries to seize the ELIXIR of the mystery briefcase, opening it and falling under its spell, but Jules gets the drop on him.
Jules talks calmly but intensely to Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. He makes a deal with Pumpkin, giving him money from his wallet in return for leaving the briefcase alone. It’s a final moment in which we are balanced between life and death.
Jules recites his bible passage for a third time, although on this reading it has a totally different meaning for him. Where before he identified with the wrathful face of god, dealing death to the unrighteous, Now he identifies with the hand of mercy and justice, trying to be the blessed one “Who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness.” He has moved his center from the thoughtless killing to a new level of heroic action, from which he can use his warrior skills for good. He is able to defuse the potentially deadly situation and walks away with the ELIXIR in hand, A SHOWDOWN which would normally leave at least one person dead has been handled with finesse and grace worthy of Mr. Wolf, Jules has grown from being a shadow, a ruthless killer to being a true HERO.
Pumpkin and Honey bunny walk away with the ELIXIR of their lives, which they won by making the right decision and keeping cool under Jules’ orders. If they are smart, they will move up the ladder of souls and prepare for adventures on the Level of Jules and Vincent.
Vincent and Jules walk away with the ELIXIR– filled briefcase. The tale is “over” although we know that in linear time, there is still much of the story ahead.
Vincent and Jules will now deliver the briefcase to Marsellus at the bar, Vincent will show disrespect for Butch and will undergo his ORDEAL with Mia, Butch will not throw the fight and will kill Vincent before surviving his ORDEAL with Marsellus.
The real ending, if these events are rearranged in Linear sequence, is the moment when BUTCH and his girlfriend ride off on the motorcycle.
The theme of Pulp Fiction seems to be testing of men by ordeals, Different characters react differently to their respective confrontations with DEATH. Despite the relativistic tone of the film, the storytellers do seem to have a moral point of view. They sit in god’s chair, dealing out the punishment of death for Vincent, who offends against the moral code of the movie, and rewarding Jules and Butch with life for making the right choices in the scheme of the film.
The most interesting case is that of Vincent, who faces ordeals in two completely different arenas, with Different results. In the area of Love and loyalty, on his date with Mia, he behaves with chivalry and courage, like a knight of old, and for this he is rewarded by brief survival.
But in the arena of respect for higher Powers and for his more experienced elders, He fails, and is swiftly punished. Once again a relativistic note is sounded, suggesting that mastery over one area of life doesn’t necessarily mean mastery of all aspects.
The interwoven hero’s Journeys of Vincent , Jules and Butch present a full spectrum of heroic possibilities, encompassing the dramatic, the tragic, the comic, and the transcendent, like Joseph cambell’s definition of myth, Pulp fiction is a “Shapeshifting yet marvelously constant story… with a challengingly persistent suggestion of more remaining to be experienced than will ever be known or told.
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Here is a extremely simplified take on the Hero’s Journey structure- Take a look-
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