"Is that what I think it is?" / "Yes, why else would the movie have this title?"
December 6, 2012 9:13 PM   Subscribe

Just caught a screening of Pulp Fiction on the big screen, and I have a question about Vincent's reading material, re: origin

In two key scenes in the movie, Vincent passes time on the toilet with a pulp copy of Modesty Blaise, spending enough time reading it to allow significant plot points to occur.

Due to the movie's shuffled timeline, the first time the book appears on the screen is actually at the end of Vincent's part in the story chronologically.

However, when the end of the movie flashes back to the events in the diner, Vincent's visit to the restroom shows him with the same book at that point of the story too, just not as far into it.

Except they just took a cab ride from Monster Joe's scrapyard, having just dropped off the tainted car after narrowly avoiding the Bonnie Situation at Jimmie's house. Where did Vincent get the book from?

When they stripped down, got hosed off, and changed into Jimmie's dork clothes, it would seem that all they would have been able to keep in the way of personal effects would be their wallets, their guns, and the notorious briefcase. Vincent and Jules were still filthy with blood from cleaning the car, and while the other items could get wiped clean, a cheap-paper novel would have likely been ruined if it had been in Vince's back pocket all that time and he pulled it out while stripping down.

Talking this over with my girlfriend, we've come up with a few ideas:
  • The book was left behind by another diner patron and Vincent got so wrapped up in it he took it with. (A pretty boring theory, and also maybe on the gross side; who just takes a book that's been laying around a mens' room for who knows how long?)
  • Vincent took the book from Jimmie's house. (Out of character for him, and they were running out of time after the hosedown as well.)
  • Vincent found the book in The Wolf's car on the drive to the scrapyard, and took it. (The Wolf seems too sophisticated to be reading trashy novels, and why would Vincent risk stealing from him?)
  • The book is from The Wolf's car, and he gives it to Vincent. (Too strange of an occurrence for both characters to happen entirely offscreen with no mention in the dialogue.)
  • The book is from the contents of the briefcase. (Really, Tarantino? The briefcase holds a rare and valuable collection of vintage Pulp Fiction? And Marsellus Wallace wouldn't check the case and find one missing before he went out of town?)
Since all of these seem lacking in one way or another (though the possibility of it being the last one is too delicious to pass up), I figured I'd check with the hive mind and see if there are any other explanations, perhaps something Quentin's mentioned in a interview, or that some critic or film theory professor has pieced together from clues elsewhere in the movie?
posted by radwolf76 to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Here they are at the scrapyard. Looks like there could easily be a book in the bag that Vincent is holding.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:18 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I thought the book was from Bruce Willis' character's house.
posted by dfriedman at 9:19 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't see why the book couldn't have been in the car when Marvin was shot. Not necessarily in Vincent's pocket. While cleaning out the car, Vincent takes the book from the car and puts it somewhere safe, like in the bag he's holding in that picture.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:19 PM on December 6, 2012

dfriedman: "I thought the book was from Bruce Willis' character's house."

Chronologically, the diner scene happens before Vincent ever meets Butch. You'd need two copies of the same dime novel, one at the diner, one at Butch's apartment, for that to work.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:26 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

The book could've been perfectly safe if in the glove compartment or under Vincent's seat, or a number of other places. Sure, Vincent's not great at keeping blood off things 'cause he's got no Lava, but it's perfectly possible that he had it in the car (maybe even in the trunk?) before the suitcase job, and kept it in fine condition up until he gets wasted.
posted by WasabiFlux at 9:27 PM on December 6, 2012

As Jules is driving on the way to execute Brett & Co, I'd say the book belongs to Jules' vegetarian girlfriend and when Vincent got in the car he took it off the passenger seat and stuck it under the seat or in the glove compartment where it escaped the repercussions of the Marvin accident.

He has the presence of mind to grab it prior to the Wolf making the car disappear because he is well aware that he will be dealing with a major bowel movement - as a functioning heroin addict who forces himself to go through withdrawal routinely to deal with the necessities of his job, the long lead-up to a protracted and uncomfortable elimination is an experience he's well familiar with.

He gets interested in the book and holds onto it.

This is also what's behind his taking a long, oblivious shit without his gun and with the bathroom door shut in the apartment he's supposed to be staking out: he's strung out and withdrawing again. Thus the dejected, hangdog expression he gives Butch just before he's shot: the addiction he keeps telling himself he has under control has betrayed him once again, and for the last time, and he knows it.

Yes this is all made up on the fly.
posted by nanojath at 12:12 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

« Older Was Operation Barbarossa the largest-scale human...   |   Identify this STD, please. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.