Tarantino’s 1994 movie Pulp Fiction has many memerable scenes. But one of, if not the most notable scenes is technically, both the beginning and ending scene. Pumpkin ( Tim Roth ) and Honey Bunny ( Amanda Plummer ) spontaniously decide to rob a diner, midday at gunpoint. Meanwhile, Jules Winnfield ( Samuel L. Jackson ) is waiting at his table, while his partner in crime Vince Vega ( John Travolta ) is using the bathroom. The first half is a summary of the scene, the second half is the proper breakdown.
Pumpkin starts gathering everybody’s wallets, while Honey Bunny watches his back. Pumpkin makes his way to Jules, wallet in hand, gives it to him. Pumpkin sees a large black briefcase under Jules’ table. He wants it. Jules refuses. Pumpkin holds a gun on him while Honey Bunny gets paranoid. To avoid getting shot in the face, he opens the case.
Pumpkin is bewildered, Honey Bunny wants to know what’s inside, but we never get to know. It’s one of those little cinematic mysteries we’ll never get to know. After that Jules gets a gun on Pumpkin. Then needing Pumpkin to calm Honey Bunny down, to avoid getting shot by her. Pumpkin calms her down, and things go smooth again.
Not that things are calm, Jules states that he doesn’t want this conflict to end in bloodshed. In that moment Vincent points a gun at Honey Bunny, after getting back from the bathroom. Jules tells him be cool.
Jules let’s Pumpkin sit back down, gun still pointed at him. Jules tells Pumpkin to take out his wallet, and count the money. He does, it’s about 1500$. To Vincent’s extreeme dissaproval, Jules tells him to keep the money, Jules however does keep the wallet.
Jules then responds with the infamous Ezekiel 25: 17 ( a fictional bible verse )
“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the
Inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men
Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will
shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness
for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children
And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious
Anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers
And you will know
My name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee”
He adds, that the verse represents that Pumpkin’s the evil man, he’s the righteous man, his gun being the shepherd protecting him in the valley of darkness. It could also mean, Pumpkin is the righteous man, Jules is the shepherd, and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish, as badly he wished that were true, he knows it isn’t. The truth is, Pumpkin is the weak, and Jules is the evil and the tyranny of evil men. but he’s trying real hard to be the shepherd. He let’s them go.
Jules and Vincent leave the diner, not saying a word to any of the employees or the guests.
Now, let me explain how this scene is the perfect contrast to the scene where Jules and Vincent rob an apartment and eat a burger.
The evolution of Jules:
Pumpkin apporoached him – Contrary to the scene I will refer to as “The Burger Scene”, Pumpkin approached Jules whereas in The Burger Scene, Jules and Vincent approached them.
Jules gives instead of taking – At the apartment, Jules takes a bite right out of the center of Marvin’s ( Phil LaMarr ) Big Kahuna burger. Afterwards, he and Vincent take the briefcase. In the Diner Scene, Jules straight up gives Pumpkin his wallet, which contained about 1500$ ( remember, this movie came out in 1994, inflation applies )
Ezekiel 25: 17 – In the Burger Scene, Jules shouts Ezekiel 25: 17 as something to say before killing a man. In the Diner Scene, Jules calmly uses it as a means to explain to Pumpkin that he is not a righteous man, that he’s trying to better himself.
Power Dynamic – In the burger scene and in the Diner Scene, Jules was always dominating the scene. In the Burger scene, he displays his power by taking a bite out of a burger and asking them if they even speak English and killing some of them. In the Diner Scene however, Jules let’s them have more power, even letting Honey Bunny point a gun at him and not even letting Vincent “take care of it”. Either way, Jules always knew exactly what he was doing.
Vincent – In the Burger Scene, Vincent basically does whatever he wants, with little to no real influence from Jules. Whereas in the diner scene, Jules rules over Vincent, telling him what movies to make. Another contrast here would be that in the Burger Scene, Jules was ruling over the apartment dwellers, with whom he had no connection whatsoever, whereas here, it’s his friend Vincent.
Nobody dies – In the Burger Scene, Jules kills three people, one who was trying to shoot him, one just to break Marvin’s attention and one while shouting Ezekiel 25:17. In the diner scene, nobody dies. Early in the film, it would have been fully in character for Jules to unload his gun into the two without hesitation, but he didn’t do it. Because he’s a changed man.
Tarantino wether intentionally or not, crafted a perfect example of character development, completely contrasting how he was in the beginning of the movie. Anyone hoping to one day be a screenwriter should study every aspect of the scene, the screenplay, the dialogue, the movements, everything. Well done Quentin!
PS, happy birthday to Kevin Bacon
& RIP to Ennio Morricone