14

In Pulp Fiction, after Butch returns from the boxing match to his girlfriend in the middle of the night, they engage in a curious conversation about the pros and cons of having a pot belly.

Quoting from the script:

           When Butch and Fabienne speak to each other, they speak in 
           babytalk.

                                 FABIENNE
                     I was looking at myself in the mirror.

                                 BUTCH
                     Uh-huh?

                                 FABIENNE
                     I wish I had a pot.

                                 BUTCH
                     You were lookin' in the mirror and 
                     you wish you had some pot?

                                 FABIENNE
                     A pot. A pot belly. Pot bellies are 
                     sexy.

                                 BUTCH
                     Well you should be happy, 'cause you 
                     do.

                                 FABIENNE
                     Shut up, Fatso! I don't have a pot! 
                     I have a bit of a tummy, like Madonna 
                     when she did "Lucky Star," it's not 
                     the same thing.

                                 BUTCH
                     I didn't realize there was a 
                     difference between a tummy and a pot 
                     belly.

                                 FABIENNE
                     The difference is huge.

                                 BUTCH
                     You want me to have a pot?

                                 FABIENNE
                     No. Pot bellies make a man look either 
                     oafish, or like a gorilla. But on a 
                     woman, a pot belly is very sexy. The 
                     rest of you is normal. Normal face, 
                     normal legs, normal hips, normal 
                     ass, but with a big, perfectly round 
                     pot belly. If I had one, I'd wear a 
                     tee-shirt two sizes too small to 
                     accentuate it.

                                 BUTCH
                     You think guys would find that 
                     attractive?

                                 FABIENNE
                     I don't give a damn what men find 
                     attractive. It's unfortunate what we 
                     find pleasing to the touch and 
                     pleasing to the eye is seldom the 
                     same.

                                 BUTCH
                     If you a pot belly, I'd punch you in 
                     it.

                                 FABIENNE
                     You'd punch me in my belly?

                                 BUTCH
                     Right in the belly.

                                 FABIENNE
                     I'd smother you. I'd drop it on your 
                     right on your face 'til you couldn't 
                     breathe.

                                 BUTCH
                     You'd do that to me?

                                 FABIENNE
                     Yes!

I am not a native English speaker and thus not familiar with the usual contexts in which the term pot belly is used.

Fabienne and Butch are obviously fooling around (as is indicated by the initial direction in the script), but I was wondering whether there was a hidden meaning to this particular section of dialogue. Is Fabienne asking Butch if he wants to have a baby with her?

  • I always thought that dialogue was strange as well. I guess it's meant to establish what kind of relationship Butch and Fabienne have, that they talk about anything, even stupid thoughts that come to their mind like "I would look good with a pot belly." ;) – magnattic Jan 14 '15 at 11:44
  • 2
    It is quite possible that it means absolutely nothing more than it says. One of Tarrantino's stylistic flourishes is dialog which is not relevant to the plot or symbolic and only serves to show the character's relationship (although it is not only him that does this). The example he gave in an interview is the 'Royal with cheese' conversation between Jules and Vincent. – Stefan Jan 14 '15 at 12:35
  • I can't find any sources to confirm this, but I always thought it was quite obvious that it was a talk about having a baby. – Kevin Jan 14 '15 at 20:20
  • Actually, this person agrees with me at least. demysteryman.com/arts-culture/demystifying-pulp-fiction – Kevin Jan 14 '15 at 20:25
  • 2
    I've always felt it was all about pregnancy: she craves blueberry pancakes, she has something important to tell Butch the night before, she's expressing her desire to be fat in the stomach/womb area to get a feel for Butch's thoughts... – CGCampbell May 1 '15 at 12:58
9

I'd always wondered exactly why we got so much of the little relationship details between Butch and Fabienne. I decided that the subtext of the scenes was that she was pregnant. It explains a lot, including that Butch was getting out of boxing and getting serious about settling down, and why he dreamed of his father's gold watch before the fight.

After rewatching the film, I decided that she probably was, and that was part of the point of seeing those scenes. I then decided to look up what the name Fabienne means, because of the theory that all the names in Pulp Fiction mean something, except for Esmarelda the Cab driver, who tells us that all names mean something.

Fabienne is a female version of the Roman family name Fabius, which means 'Bean Grower'.

Pregnant.

6

I think Fabienne really is talking about her belly and bellies in general. I don't believe there is meant to be a deeper meaning.

But I don't believe the dialogue is intended to be random, cool, or otherwise affected as much as the dialogue is a window into the characters (Fabienne somewhat vain; Butch playful and teasing) and their relationship (intimate and playful). And perhaps most importantly the dialogue serves as a lead-in to the love-making that occurs later in the scene.

Also, the dialogue mentions Madonna -- as did a choice bit of dialogue in Reservoir Dogs.

4

Standard Tarrantino fare. I don't feel like she's talking about being pregnant, as some women don't even get that big and even if they do it's only for a short period of time. I'd lean more towards it being yet another "I'm cool because I'm so random" chat between characters in a Tarrantino movie.

  • I couldn't disagree more. The way she's describing the pot belly, women only get that way when they're pregnant. Even the t-shirt emphasizing it is a pregnancy thing. – Kevin Jan 15 '15 at 15:22
  • 2
    "Why wouldn't she have said something about a baby at that point and made it obvious?" I'm gonna go way out on a limb and guess that you're not married. – Kevin Jan 15 '15 at 17:18
  • 1
    Married, divorced, have a 22-year-old son, actually. What's your point? – Johnny Bones Jan 15 '15 at 18:03
  • 1
    What percentage of the time did your ex-wife just come out and say something and make it obvious? – Kevin Jan 15 '15 at 19:37
  • 1
    100% of the time, because we knew how to communicate. Sorry if your experience was/is different. – Johnny Bones Jan 15 '15 at 20:10
1

The implication I got was that this line was to do with Feederism (AKA Fat Fetishism)1

Fabienne talks about wearing clothes which are two sizes too small, and showing off a woman's ( or man's) stuffed stomach is a big part of most fat fetishes. Also, the line about smothering Butch with her belly really strikes me as being quite erotic in nature.

The thing that cemented this for me was the line in a subsequent scene, where Fabienne talks about ordering excessive amounts of food, and slathering it in melted cheese.

I know that Tarantino leaves little hints as to his foot fetish in his works ("Wiggle your big toe", anyone?) so it wouldn't surprise me to see him referencing other fetishes.

That's just my reading, anyhow.

1

There is no mistaking that she is talking about the desire to be pregnant, with his baby. She wants to show it off and she wants him to make it happen. No doubt. Ridiculous if anyone thinks otherwise.

Her character is not American, she's foreign to America so her vocabulary may not be what you'd expect from English speaking Americans.

  • Thank you for assisting the community. Is there a source you can mention? I hope you enjoy participating. – John Nov 13 '16 at 3:10
0

She says what she means. Feeling a woman with a larger belly feels amazing, (not hard pot belly but soft, like post-pregnancy when the belly is more malleable and fluffy).

Some people, even though they may not like the looks of a chubbier woman, would love the feel of one. They'd never know though, until they tried.

-2

You're all wrong...there WAS a time when a pot belly was considered sexy on a woman. She's not talking about being pregnant. I remember my mother telling me that when I was very young and I was surprised when I heard it discussed in Pulp Fiction. And whoever said women don't have pot bellies unless they're pregnant, that's ridiculous.

-3

the deeper meaning is in her line " It's unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same."

  • 3
    Okay, now explain the deeper meaning of that line. – MattD Jul 22 '15 at 2:50
  • 2
    Welcome to Movies & TV (movies.stackexchange.com/tour). You might want to elaborate a bit more on your answer to provide additional information – Panther Jul 22 '15 at 3:16

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