The monologue is short under two minutes and exemplifies elements 1-6 and 8 of Monologue Writing 101. The night prior to the monologue Walt's son, Walt Jr., had come to his father's condo to check if everything was alright, because Walt had missed Walt Jr.'s 16th birthday celebration. Walt Jr. finds his father looking beat up, Walt's been in a fight, and drunk. In his drunken weakened state Walt had spoken briefly to his son and then passed out. The monologue takes place the next morning.
In the monologue Walt shares the story of his one real memory of his own father, who died of Huntington's disease when Walt was very young. Walt's memory is of a father who was very sick, barely hanging onto life, who could no longer speak, and who may no longer even have fully recognized him. Walt's only real memory of his father is of a shell of a man. Walt wants his own son, Walt Jr., to remember him at his best. Walt does not want Walt Jr. to remember him the way he was the night before; drunk, beaten, incoherent.
For actors auditioning for a dramatic role, who want to demonstrate they can achieve a layered, nuanced performance - this monologue delivers.
Per Monologue Writing 101, this monologue exemplifies the following elements:
Element 1: Walt has a strong desire for his son to have a positive memory of him. He wants his son to forget what he saw last night.
Element 2: Walt has at stake how his son sees and esteems him. As a father, Walt cares deeply how he will be remembered by his son when he is gone.
Element 3: Walt tries a few tactics to get his son to forget about his lapse in character. He apologizes to his son, he shows his son he feels ashamed, he uses self-deprecation, and finally he opens up about his own father. The memory he shares is something very personal that he has never told his son before.
Element 4: The opening of the monologue serves as an effective hook. It sets up the current state of the relationship dynamic and the want that the speaker has in that relationship. It pulls us in. We want to see if Walt will win over his son. "I wish I could take back last night. It was your birthday, this shouldn’t be on your mind. No it’s not okay, I’m your father and I don’t want last night to be…. I mean you, you really … you can’t think of me like …"
Element 5: The close of the monologue has a solid "button" ending. It effectively connects the past action from Walt's childhood back to the present action between Walt and Walt Jr. and to the strong character want established at the start of the monologue. By the end of the monologue, Walt's want has more weight and has engaged the empathy of Walt Jr. "That is the only real memory that I have of my father. I don’t want you to think of me the way I was last night. I don’t want that to be the memory you have of me when I’m gone."
Element 6: This is an excellent example of a monologue that engages the senses. Walt remembers the smell in hospital where he visited his father, the "stench of Lysol and bleach." He remembers seeing his father lying in bed "all twisted up." And he remembers the sound of his father breathing like "this rattling sound. Like if you were shaking an empty spray paint can. Like there was nothing in him."
Element 8: Past action is used to drive home the present want of the monologist. Walt uses his memory as a tactic to engage his son's empathy, to persuade his son. The author does a good job keeping past action tied to present action.
Here is one example from the monologue where Walt uses a specific detail from the past as a means to connect to his son in the present: "My mother would tell me so many stories about my father. I mean she would talk about him all the time. I knew about his personality, how he treated people, I even knew how he liked his steaks cooked. Medium rare, just like you."