'Breaking Bad' includes lines in which characters quote passages from Whitman, and a copy of the writer's 'Leaves of Grass' was recently a pivotal plot point.
Characters sometimes quote Whitman in the dramatic series, which chronicles terminally ill teacher Walter White’s descent into evil when he decides to make and sell crystal meth to leave a nest egg for his family.
“Leaves of Grass,” Whitman’s most famous collection of poems, plays a pivotal role in a recent episode when Walter’s brother-in-law Hank, a DEA agent, comes across a copy of Whitman’s poetry that incriminates Walter as a drug kingpin.
Kera Bolonik, writing recently at poetryfoundation.org, noted that at first glance, the pairing of the cosmically ebullient Whitman and the darkly mercenary Walter is an odd one, to say the least.
But Bolonik also pointed to some similarities between Whitman and Walter, mentioning that they’re both intellectual pioneers in their field, doing work that puts them at society’s margin, and they’re both obsessive perfectionists. You can read the full text of Bolonik’s splendid essay here.