Race in Pulp Fiction

Posted: September 9, 2014 in Movies


When Pulp Fiction was first released, director Quentin Tarantino was taken to task by social commentators for the screenplay’s liberal use of the n-word, particular by the character of Jimmy (who was also played by Tarantino). However, looking back at the film as a whole, one could argue that it presents something of post-racial paradise (gratuitous violence notwithstanding).

Think about it, the film focuses on two friends who happen to be hitmen—one black, the other white—with the race of neither character being addressed or referenced by the other. Their boss, Marcellus Wallace, a large black man, is married to a petite white woman. And Jimmy, Tarantino’s supposedly racist character, is married to a black nurse. Moreover, Marcellus actually teams up with his sworn enemy, Butch, to bring down their common foe – two racist rednecks. Despite all of the brutal bloodletting the film portrays, the characters exist in a surprisingly optimistic and racially tolerant society.

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