My Favorite Characters: Jules Winnfield

Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite filmmakers ever. Each of his movies are filled to the brim with style, moral ambiguity, and a pitch black sense of humor. Pulp Fiction is the embodiment of Tarantino's work as a filmmaker. Everything that people love about Tarantino's work lives within his magnum opus. The clever dialogue, the moral struggles, the graphic violence, and the simultaneous badass and intelligent aspects of Tarantino find themselves in the movie, as well as one of its main characters: Jules Winnfield.

Pulp Fiction is a movie focusing on people that are deemed to be the stains of society. Almost every character in the film can be described as "a bad person" that does "bad things". Whether they be hitmen, robbers, or crime bosses, the characters of Pulp Fiction are people that you would not want to mess with in real life. Back when the movie came out in 1994, people were outraged that a movie was made that portrayed murdering, stealing, drug-doing, profane people as "the good guys". Hell, the only representative of law enforcement in the movie (a position that is respected by the majority of people) turned out to be the creepiest and most demented person in the entire film. And that is the movie's strongest element. By putting the main focus on people that the world has labeled as "the creeps of society", it allows the filmmaker to add loads of depth and intrigue to people that the general public does not care about or would even want to care about. And nowhere is that more apparent than the character of Jules.

Jules is a hitman, and a very good one at that. When most people think of a hitman, the image of cold-hearted, immoral monster springs into their head. Someone such as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. However, despite his profession of murdering people for pay, Jules is a man of a very strong moral code. He believes that the people he is assigned to kill deserve to die because of their sinister actions. He views them as a threat to the pure people of the world. Because of this, he takes the opportunity to teach his victims a lesson about morality before blowing them away. He believes that God has a plan for him, and that plan initially revolved around him cleansing the world of injustice. He sees himself as a soldier for the Lord who is on a mission to eradicate all signs of evil. A modern angel of death, in a way. All of this is summarized in the bible quote Ezekiel 25:17 that Jules quotes each time he assassinated a target:

"The path of the righteous man is bisect on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers, and you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."

This all changed when Jules was unloaded upon at close range and remained miraculously untouched by a single bullet. While his partner and friend Vincent dismissed the incident as dumb luck, Jules saw it as a sign from God. He believed that God decided to let him live in hopes that he would change his ways. That afternoon, Jules came to the grim realization that he is in fact, the tyranny of evil men that must be cleansed from the world. After contemplating his life choices, Jules makes the decision to quit his impure profession, and to travel the world to look for answers and guidance from the Lord. In order to clean himself, he has to quit being the very thing that he despises.

In a movie with a worse actor and a less talented screenwriter, Jules' character arc would seem too contrived and heavy-fisted. We are fortunate as an audience that Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson are so amazing at their jobs. Despite his intense moral dilemma, Jules is an entertaining and charismatic character throughout the movie's entire running time. Jackson's performance is phenomenal and steals the show in every scene he's in. When Jules needs to be relaxed, he's cool as a cucumber. When he needs to be funny, he's flat out hilarious. When he needs to be serious and intimidating, he sends chills running down the length of your whole body. There's a reason why the majority of quotes people remember from Pulp Fiction were said by Jules. Jackson is charismatic and likable as hell in the movie, and each line he says oozes with passion. He speaks with the same passion in his voice when he's executing somebody as when he's talking about burgers or a foot massage.

Chronologically, the last event to happen in Pulp Fiction's story is Butch fleeing Los Angeles with his girlfriend. Jules' story ends when he comes to realization that murdering the bad people of the world is unjust. As the people who have seen the movie know, Butch had killed Vincent during his escape. It's left ambiguous to the audience how Jules, Mia, and Marcellus will react to their colleague and friend being dead. Some have speculated that Jules and Marcellus would track Butch down for revenge. Others have speculated that they would mourn Vincent and continue with their lives. Personally, I do not know what will happen next for Jules after the events of Pulp Fiction. Perhaps he'll follow through with what he said and try to find peace for himself by exploring the world. Maybe he will try to avenge his fallen comrade in some way or another. I honestly have no idea. And that is truly the mark of a fantastic movie and a fantastic character. When you, as an audience member, ponder and speculate what will happen to them once the events of their story conclude.