The Toulmin System in Pulp Fiction Examples of argumentation and debate can be found in many places besides courtrooms and news channels. This paper will discuss a scene from the movie Pulp Fiction where one character, Vincent Vega, uses the Toulmin system to make an argument against another character, Jules Winnfield. First, I will give a brief overview of the movie, then analyze the aforementioned scene, detailing what parts of the dialogue are claims, evidence, warrants, backing and qualifiers. Pulp Fiction is a movie that was made in 1994.
Directed by Quentin Tarantino and tarring several actors that grew to become A-list stars like Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis, Pulp Fiction became one of the most critically acclaimed movies of that year. The movie is famous for its clever and humorous dialogue, its gruesome and stylized violence, and interconnecting storylines that Tarantino has become acclaimed for. In one of the first scenes of Pulp Fiction, Jules Winnfield is telling Vincent Vega about an incident that involves their boss, Marsellus Wallace, his wife Mia, and a man by the name of Antoine Rockamora.
Jules tells Vincent that Antoine gave Mia a foot assage, and once Marsellus found out, he had some men attack Antoine. They dropped Antoine through a greenhouse, and “since then he kind of developed a speech impediment. ” It is to this that Vincent says, “you play with matches, you get burned. ” This is the claim of his argument. Jules asks Vincent to clarify, and Vincent says, “you don’t be giving Marsellus Wallace’s new bride a foot massage,” which is his revised claim. Vincent’s reason for this is that Antoine was attacked. Jules then asks Vincent if he thinks Marsellus overreacted.
Vincent says yes, but states that Antoine should have expected some ort of reaction. When Jules says that foot massages are meaningless, Vincent gives his first warrant by stating that Antoine put his hands on Mia in a familiar way, and that’s what upset Marsellus. He elaborates on this claim when he says, “Is it as bad as eating her pussy out, no, but it’s the same fucking ballpark. ” At this point of the conversation, Jules starts to get upset. He argues that foot massages are not even close to the intimacy that oral sex brings, that massages are not “the same fucking sport” as “putting your tongue in the holiest of holies.
Vincent asks Jules if he has ever given foot massages, to which Jules brags about his skills in the technique. Vincent then gives the backing for his warrant when he asks Jules, “would you give a guy a foot massage? ” Jules is silent for a few seconds, and then he curses, “fuck you,” to Vincent. At this point Vincent starts making fun of Jules about his stance on foot massages, which only serves to make Jules angrier. Jules tells Vincent that even though he would not give a man a foot massage, Marsellus was still wrong for attacking Antoine so brutally.
Vincent agrees, then gives a qualifier for his claim, stating, “l ain’t saying it’s right. ” Vincent elaborates on the subject, which serves as his closing statement. “IVe given a million ladies a million foot massages, and they all meant something. ” He Marsellus knew it. And Antoine should have fucking better known better. ” So to summarize the Toulmin system in this paper, first Vincent made the claim that Antoine should not have massaged Mia’s feet. Vincent’s reason for this was that there was bound to have been a reaction, this reaction being the attack against
Antoine. His warrant was that foot massages were sexual and intimate, and his backing for this was that when he asked Jules if he would give a male a foot massage, proving the massage’s intimacy. His qualifier was saying that Marsellus’s reaction was indeed too extreme. In closing, this paper personally helped me better understand debate and argumentation. I have given a detailed description of Pulp Fiction, and shown that argumentation systems like the Toulmin system can be applied anywhere, even in seemingly normal movie conversations.