Although Quentin Tarantino’s movies have endings that leave little to no room for speculation, some of his works have some elements that have led to a number of theories on what they are or represent, and the most famous one is the briefcase in pulp fiction, which according to one theory, contains God. Tarantino’s career as a filmmaker began in 1992 with the crime movie Reservoir Dogsand while it was a critical success and opened many doors for him, his big break arrived two years later with pulp fictionanother crime movie.
pulp fiction stood out for being divided into segments told in a non-linear manner, with each one led by one or two characters and all of them crossing paths at some point. The characters leading the segments in pulp fiction are hitmen Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), their boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), his wife Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman), and boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), with the connecting link between all of them being Marsellus – and he’s also at the front and center of one of the biggest questions left by pulp fiction.
Following the prologue at the diner with Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer), pulp fiction takes the audience to meet Vincent and Jules, who are tasked to retrieve a briefcase for Marsellus from Brett, a business partner. Once there, and while Jules intimidates Brett and company, Vincent opens the briefcase and a bright yellow light comes out of it, but the contents of the briefcase are never revealed. This has led to a number of theories on what’s in the briefcase in pulp fictionand one theory takes a more spiritual approach by suggesting the briefcase contained God.
What’s Known About Pulp Fiction’s Briefcase
Although Tarantino is always open to discuss movies, including his own, he hasn’t said much about the possible contents of pulp fiction‘s briefcase except that it’s simply a MacGuffin, but that has only made the mystery grow as years pass, making way for a variety of theories. However, and as Tarantino is known for “copying” other movies, it’s widely believed that the briefcase and its glowing contents are a homage to the 1955 noir movie Kiss Me Deadlyin which a briefcase is opened and its contents also glow, though in that case, the briefcase was carrying an atomic explosive, and this has also led to the interpretation of the briefcase’s glow in pulp fiction being a symbol of violence itself.
Why Pulp Fiction Doesn’t Reveal What’s Inside The Briefcase
Tarantino is also known for paying attention to all the details in his movies, and the glowing briefcase in pulp fiction is no exception – and it’s also not surprising that he doesn’t speak much about what the contents of the briefcase could possibly be. Tarantino has said that there’s no explanation for what’s in the briefcase as it’s simply a MacGuffin, which is an object, device, or event necessary to the plot and the motivation of the characters – without the briefcase, Jules and Vincent wouldn’t have gone with Brett, so Jules wouldn’t have had his “divine intervention” epiphany and most of the movie wouldn’t have happened.
Theory: Pulp Fiction’s Briefcase Contains God
Of course, this hasn’t stopped viewers from coming up with a variety of theories on what could possibly be in pulp fiction‘s briefcase, and one of them suggests that it contains God. The theory, posted on Reddit, explains through the leads of each segment and all those that, at some point, come into contact with the briefcase, that what Marsellus was keeping in it wasn’t exactly something tangible but something more spiritual. The author begins with Brett and company, as while they had the briefcase they were safe, but as soon as they gave it to Jules and Vincent to save themselves, they were left vulnerable as “those who give up the faith to protect the flesh usually suffer consequences”. Vincent wasn’t in possession of the briefcase, and even though he took a look inside, he never “accepted” it, and “those who deny God usually suffer consequences”, which is why bad things happened to Vicent throughout pulp fictionleading to his death.
The only times Vincent somewhat benefited from the contents of the briefcase were when he was with Jules, who had accepted the contents of it unconditionally. According to the author of the theory, Jules would represent “the shepherd”, and as soon as he had the briefcase with him, he refused to give it up. Jules’ role as the shepherd can be further “confirmed” by the diner scene where he shows the contents of the briefcase to Pumpkin, who is mesmerized by them, and so Jules”forgives and sends them into the world”. In this theory, Pumpkin and Honey Bunny represent “the lost souls” who were saved by Jules showing Pumpkin the contents of the briefcase and thus were able to leave the diner without a single injury and go on a different path.
Of course, there’s also Marsellus Wallace, who was completely fine until he no longer had the briefcase, but he was still alive because he was trying to get the briefcase back. Meanwhile, Mia partakes in Vincent’s activities (those of the “non-believer”) and the consequences of it, and Butch has a weak connection to the briefcase, so he isn’t protected by it but he won’t die either, and he represents the “religious ignorant”.
How The Briefcase Containing God Changes How You See Pulp Fiction
While the theory about pulp fiction‘s briefcase containing God makes sense in different ways, especially when it comes to why some characters were safe in certain situations and others aren’t, it obviously gives a religious meaning to pulp fiction that might not be welcomed by many viewers. However, the author of the theory adds that Tarantino once said the briefcase contains “whatever you want it to”, and there’s the common depiction of “God is what you want him to be”, so the moment Vincent and Pumpkin saw the contents of the briefcase, it physically manifested in different ways, leaving them mesmerized, but in Vincent’s case not too impressed or attached, which leaves the door open for speculation on what the briefcase would contain for them and the rest of the characters.
What Else Could Pulp Fiction’s Briefcase Contain?
As mentioned above, there are different theories on what pulp fiction‘s briefcase truly contains, the most popular one suggesting it keeps Marsellus’ soul. The theory is supported by Marsellus wearing a bandage on the back of his neck, which according to the theory, correlates with a biblical text that reveals how the Devil takes one’s soul. Another popular theory says the briefcase contains the diamonds from Reservoir Dogswhich supports another theory about Reservoir Dogs happening on the same day as pulp fiction or being a prequel to it. One more theory went as far as to suggest the briefcase keeps an Oscar, which Tarantino went on to win for the screenplay of pulp fiction. The briefcase isn’t meant to have something specific inside because it’s just a plot device, but viewers can still speculate.
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