Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"I Want to Know What It Feels Like to Kill a Man.": Pulp Fiction Analysis Part XII

Go to Part XI: "And now, little man, I give the watch to you."

"I want to know what it feels like to kill a man," Esmerelda asks.

In the getaway cab, Butch takes his boxing gloves off. In the background Tarantino uses a process shot again. It is probably not something you would notice right away, but the footage he uses for the rear-screen projection is in black-and-white. Why would he use black-and-white projection for a color film? He is recalling old film noir movies again because Butch’s story is a typical noir narrative. The use of the old-fashioned cab plays into this, as well.

In this two shot, the black and white processing is clear in the background.

The cab driver, Esmerelda, informs Butch that he killed Floyd. He didn’t know he was dead. She wants to know what it feels like to kill a man.

BUTCH: I couldn’t tell ya. I didn’t know he was dead until you told me he was dead. Now that I know he’s dead you wanna know how I feel about it? I don’t feel the least bit bad about it.

This is a bit of foreshadowing of the murders Butch will commit later as Butch tells her he can’t answer the question because he didn’t even know Floyd was dead until just now. He feels no remorse over it. Now he knows he can kill a man by accident and have no regrets. Later, Butch will kill Vincent without changing the expression on his face. Like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather he has discovered he may be a born killer.

Perhaps Butch’s choice of profession – boxing – is a result of the absence of war and violence in his life. We hear Butch’s end of a phone conversation, presumably with the man who helped him make a lot of money off the fight he was supposed to throw, but didn’t. He says about Floyd:

BUTCH: Hey, fuck him, Scotty, if he was a better boxer he’d still be alive. If he never laced up his glove, which he never should have done in the first fuckin’ place, he’d still be alive.

This line is an indication of how Butch views boxing – like going into battle. He suggests Floyd had no business being in the ring and, as in combat, he knew the risks and lost. Next we learn he’s headed to Knoxville, the same town where his watch was purchased, thus bringing his adventure full circle.

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