Butch Coolidge: Quentin Tarantino’s proud and sentimental boxing champion
There are some great characters written by Quentin Tarantino for his 1994 masterpiece. Pulp Fiction. From the mystery of Marsellus Wallace to the super-cool Vincent Vega, every strand of this tapestry-like story is worth the pull. The character that undoubtedly stood out was one of the film’s three protagonists, sentimental boxer Butch Coolidge, played gracefully by Bruce Willis.
Butch’s story begins in his hometown of Tennessee. His father was a soldier who served in the Vietnam War, but unfortunately died during the conflict. Shortly before his death, Butch’s father entrusted his army colleague Captain Koons with a valuable item of the Coolidge family.
The two were captured by Vietnamese troops and taken hostage. Mr. Coolidge wanted his little boy Butch to return home to continue the Coolidge legacy by wearing a gold wristwatch his father had given him, and to hide this from the Vietnamese, Mr. Coolidge stuck the watch in his rectum for five years until he died from dysentery. .
It was at this point that Captain Koons took the watch and hid it in his ass for many more years until he was finally released from prison. Upon his return to America, Captain Koons sought out young Butch, told him the story of his father, and gave him a gold wristwatch. Butch made it his most prized possession. Perhaps the loss of his father figure made Butch turn to boxing to prove himself as a fighter. He later moved to Los Angeles and rose through the ranks. At the height of his boxing prowess, Butch was offered a bribe to lose to his opponent, from crime boss Marsellus Wallace.
But pride has always been Butch’s biggest character trait, having grown up in a military patriotic family. His plan was to win the match and still leave with the money by running away from Los Angeles with his girlfriend Fabienne. However, Butch may still have some hidden anger at losing his father, and he inadvertently beat his opponent to death.
It was from there that Butch got confused in his escape. His over-sentimentality leads him to return to his apartment to retrieve his father’s watch, instead of just leaving it and leaving town with Fabienne. Sure, Wallace’s people will be after Butch, but he obviously values his father’s legacy more than his own life.
It was in his apartment that Butch ran into the film’s other protagonist, Vincent Vega (played by John Travolta), whose own laid-back qualities were his undoing. While he’s skeptical about revealing much of the plot to those who may not have seen the film, it’s safe to say that Butch’s pride puts him in a very sticky situation.
When Butch runs into Marcellus Wallace on his way back to Fabienne, they are both inadvertently drawn into a nightmarish scenario where their pride is tested. As a result of the event, Wallace and Butch’s feud was evened out.
Butch Coolidge is by far one of Quentin Tarantino’s most well-written and memorable characters. Its storyline is simple, as expected from Pulp Fiction a fairy tale, but it is this precise simplicity that allows Butch’s characteristic pride to shine. Butch just longs for a quiet life with Fabienne, away from the fast pace of life he finds himself in Los Angeles and away from his association with Marcellus Wallace.
However, it is this pride that always seems to lead Butch down the rabbit hole of trouble. If he had just been able to let the sleeping dogs lie, or, in his case, let the gold wristwatch live forever on the kangaroo on his nightstand, then he might just have avoided the impending disastrous consequences and escape LA with Fabienne unscathed. Again, without Butch’s pride, Pulp Fiction his excellent hero would be completely lacking.
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