Walter White, Mr White, Heisenberg, goes by many names but his two kids call him dad.
Ruthless and violent on the streets, but loving, for the most part, at home.
The dichotomy of Walter White is an interesting one; how can someone be so remorsless and cunning while being loving and supporting?
You might say that there was no dichotomy at all, you may say that everything he did on the street while producing drugs and growing his empire was mirrored with his dishonesty and sometimes increasingly hostile attitude at home.
And you’d be right of course.
The thing is, during his empire building run, Mr White fundamental changed who he was, not unlike Darth Vader, for the sole purpose of his family.
At least that’s what he tells himself, as the audience we’re never really to know how he was pre cancer.
And again it may have been the tumour eating at his sense of morality that ultimately caused him to act the way he did, but at the root of it he was still amassing a fortune for his family when that same tumour took his life.
Lets take a look at Walters motivation: he has a wife and child that’s disabled, they live in small town America, and he’s a high school chemistry teacher. It’s safe to assume that he’s not sitting on a fortune.
It’s not long before we find out that he has cancer, and that, without adequate funds, he’ll almost certainly not survive. It’s even likely that even with the funds his life span will be a greatly reduced one.
So what’s a prideful middle school chemistry teacher to do?
Start a meth lab with a former drug addict student, and built a reputation bigger than any other cartel in town.
Dad Like Abilities
If you break the show down he’s not only a dad to his son and daughter (who is born during the shows run) but also to Jessie Pinkman, former student and drug dealing partner.
Through out the show not only does Mr White help Jessie kick drugs (several times), teach him a craft/profession, and mentor him, he also, literally, kills to save him from certain death.
Walter stands by Jessie no matter what the little punk does, in fact, like Vader, he makes the ultimate sacrifice at the close of the show to set things right for his surrogate son. Falling on his sword as it were to set Jessie free.
Through the shows run we see Walter change from mild mannered school teacher, to power wielding emperor of his own empire.
This doesn’t happen by accident, it’s a calculated and necessary reaction to his situation and his families needs.
As the need grows and the time runs short he’s forced to up his game, and inevitably push the competition into the ground.
In doing so his product increases in value but the danger grows, as both these things develope he needs to change immeasurably to protect his asset. Which is being accumulated to support his family.
Through out the six seasons its made painfully clear that he does it all for his kids future.
The final stroke of genius and sacrifice is shown through him blackmailing old friends into providing the ill-gotten fortune to his family, ultimately preventing the DEA from seizing it.
The Ultimate Sacrifice
It’s fair to say that in the end when he lays on his metaphorical sword that not only has he changed himself for the worse but also sent his family to a place that is worse than before.
But Mr White goes to his grave knowing that Jessie escaped and went on to a better life, drug free, and wiser for the experience.
He can also be sure that his kids will truly be set for life.
That must have been a comforting thought as he lay in the dirt to die, after all that’s why he became a remorsless drug lord and killer.