What was in the briefcase?
There is a popular hypothesis that the briefcase in Pulp Fiction contained the disembodied soul of Marsellus Wallace. The evidence offered is both the otherworldly glow that emanates from the case and, the first time we see Wallace, he has a bandage at the base of his neck (presumably from having had his soul extracted).
Here’s why that can’t be true:
First, we know that Vincent Vega (John Travolta) is a logical man. Witness the discussion with Jules regarding the relative cleanliness of pigs versus dogs.
VINCENT: Want some bacon?
JULES: Naw, man, I don’t eat pork.
VINCENT: Are you Jewish?
JULES: I ain’t Jewish, I just don’t dig on swine, that’s all.
VINCENT: Why not?
JULES: Pigs are filthy animals. I don’t eat filthy animals.
VINCENT: Yeah, but bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good.
JULES: Hey, a sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie. But I’ll never know ’cause I wouldn’t eat the filthy motherfuckers. Pigs sleep and root in shit. That’s a filthy animal. I ain’t eat nothin’ that ain’t got sense enough to disregard its own feces.
VINCENT: How about a dog? Dog eats its own feces.
JULES: I don’t eat dog either.
VINCENT: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
JULES: I wouldn’t go so far as to call a dog filthy, but they’re definitely dirty. But a dog’s got personality. Personality goes a long way.
VINCENT: So by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal? Is that true?
In the apartment with Brad and Flock of Seagulls, Vincent retrieves the briefcase from under the sink. Jules asks if they are happy with the contents of the briefcase. Vincent opens the case – his face is bathed with a strange golden light. Jules repeats the question, “We happy?”
Vincent replies, “Yeah…we happy,” and closes the briefcase.
Shortly thereafter, Jules recites some scripture, and Brad’s last surviving cohort comes out of the bathroom – unloads the “hand cannon” at Jules and Vincent.
He misses every shot and Jules and Vincent murder the shit out of him.
Immediately following this exchange of gunfire, a debate ensues between Jules and Vincent.
Jules insists that the hand of god came down and stopped the bullets – that they have experienced a miracle.
Vincent, conversely, does not accept this claim. He says it was just a coincidence. He gives a counter example about a cop in a narrow hallway. The debate is interrupted by Marvin’s unfortunate accident but resumes later at the diner, where Vincent demonstrates his solid grasp of logic as regards charming motherfucking pigs.
Here’s the clincher: IF Vincent Vega had peered into an open briefcase and looked upon the disembodied soul of Marsellus Wallace, he would not then stubbornly dismiss the possibility of supernatural events. At the very least, he would have to shrug and say, “Well, I just looked at a soul…so maybe god had something in it.”
But that’s not what Vincent does. He mocks the idea that god might have made the impossible possible.
The briefcase could not, therefore, have contained Marsellus Wallace’s soul.
How about this?
Vincent Vega is in Pulp Fiction.
Vic Vega, his brother, was Michael Madsen’s character in Reservoir Dogs.
The briefcase contained the jewelry from the heist.