To look for lessons on how to relate with others in a film so well-punctuated by gunfire of all gauges may seem futile. But Pulp Fiction, for all of its violence and darkness, seems to—amidst the carnage—offer viewers something quite unexpected: a crash course in negotiation. Some such examples include Jules’ diffusion of a botched coffee shop hold-up, Jimmy and The Wolf reaching a compensatory agreement for the use of his blankets to patch over bloodied car upholstery, and Vincent’s negotiation with himself on whether or not to end his evening with Mia early.
Another such lesson in negotiation occurs in my favorite scene, soon after Butch’s escape from a near-fatal ordeal during his quest to recover his father’s heirloom wrist-watch. Butch had previously exploded at his girlfriend Fabienne for forgetting to pack the watch and stormed out on a mission to get it back, promising to be back “real quick.”
Hours later, he returns, shirt bloodied and riding aboard a stolen motorcycle – sorry, Butch, I mean chopper – with one goal: to get out of LA as fast as he can. However, he must first persuade Fabienne to abandon their belongings and her wrecked car and climb aboard the chopper with him. “Come on, come on…Honey, we gotta hit the…road, get on!” But his loud exhortations only serve to bring Fabienne to tears.
So he tries a different approach, one complete with apologies, warm kisses, and an earnest, if mundane, question: “How was your breakfast?…Did you get the pancakes, the blueberry pancakes?” Fabienne responds she had to settle for buttermilk. For a precious moment, normalcy returns, and Butch makes his final successful plea: “Honey, since I left you, this has been without a doubt the single weirdest… day of my life! Come on, hop on, I’ll tell you all about it.” And with that, they ride off…