Prior Walter

prior walter

Prior Walter is a quirky, sometimes bitter, man dying of AIDS. He occasionally works as a club designer or caterer and lives very modestly but with great style. Prior is only about 30 years old, he seems to enjoy life a lot and the fact that he has got an incurable disease shatters him. Studying himself in a mirror during a dream he describes himself as a "corpsette". However,
at first, he tries to cope with his disease using dark humour. Prior constantly alludes to death, which upsets his boyfriend,
Louis Ironson, a lot. Prior is quite aware of this and avoids talking to Louis about his illness. Prior, too, is afraid of the future.
He is afraid that Louis will leave him. Prior’s fears turn out to be true when, after four years of living together, Louis walks out on him. Prior is crushed and gets furious, he cannot and does not want to understand Louis and accuses him of being uncapable of loving anyone.
Prior values history and especially his own origin a lot. He often tells Louis about his ancestors and takes pride in his old name.
To Prior "names are important". When two of his ancestors visit him, Prior learns that, ironically, both of them also died of an infection. They died of the pestilence, the worst disease in their time while Prior dies of AIDS, the plague of his time.
His ancestors point out that Prior will die alone and, because he has no children, his name will die with him. All they can do for
him is to announce that The Messenger, an Angel, has come.
Prior’s main objective is to come to terms with living a life that is almost unbearable. At first, he passively dismisses his fate with morbid remarks and incessant allusions to death. Understandably, he loses any optimistic outlook on his future and dryly states
"I usually say ‘Fuck the truth’, but mostly, the truth fucks you". Prior doesn’t believe Harper who sees a part in him that is left uninfected, he "feels dirty". Hopeless and abandoned, it is only plausible that he is desperate and therefore often complaining and questioning why he is condemned. Nevertheless, Prior becomes the moral centre of the story. Like all the other characters, he cannot continue his old life and has to face an uncertain future. Despite the fact that his troubles are especially acute, he remains strong, and demands "more life" from the Angels.

In the HBO mini series from 2003, Prior Walter was played by Justin Kirk.


Prior: Oh my queen; you know you've hit rock-bottom when even drag is a drag.

Prior: I'm a homosexual.
Harper: Oh. In my church we don't believe in homosexuals.
Prior: In my church we don't believe in Mormons.

Prior: I usually say, "Fuck the truth," but mostly, the truth fucks you.

Harper: ...Don't you think it's depressing?
Prior: The limitations of the imagination?
Harper: Yes.
Prior: It's something you learn after your second theme party: It's All Been Done Before.

Louis: What if I walked out on this? Would you hate me forever?
Prior: Yes.

Prior: We have reached a verdict, your honor. This man's heart is deficient. He loves, but his love his worth nothing.

Prior: That ludicrous spectacle in there. Just a parody of the funeral of someone who really counted. We don't. Faggots.
We're just a bad dream the real world is having. And the real world's waking up.

Belize: You look like Morticia Addams.
Prior: Like the Wrath of God.
Belize: Yes.
Prior: That is the intended effect.

Prior: When you cry, Louis, it's nothing. It's just the idea of crying.

Prior: Fuck you. I'm a prophet.

Prior: Are you really bruised inside?
Louis: I can't have this talk anymore.
Prior: Oh the lost of things you can't do. So fragile! Answer me: Inside: Bruises?
Louis: Yes.
Prior: Come back to me when they're visible. I want to see black and blue, Louis, I want to see blood.
Because I can't believe you haven have blood in your veins till you show it to me. So don't come near me again,
unless you've got something to show.

Prior: I'm a prophet.
Joe: What?
Prior: Prophet! Prophet! I prophecy, I have sight, I see! What do you do?
Joe: I'm a clerk.
Prior: Oh, big deal, a clerk? You, what, you file things? You better be keeping a file on the hearts you break. That's all that counts in the end. You'll be having bills to pay in the world to come. You and your friend, the Whore of Babylon.
Sorry, wrong room.

Prior: Don't be alarmed, it's worse than it looks.

Prior: But still. Still.
Bless me anyway.
I want more life. I can't help myself. I do.
I've lived through such terrible times and there are people who live through much worse. But you see them living anyway. When they're more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when they're burned and in agony, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children - they live. Death usually has to take life away. I don't know if that's just the animal. I don't know if it's not braver to die, but I recognize the habit; the addiction to being alive. So we live past hope. If I can find hope anywhere, that's it, that's the best I can do. It's so much not enough. It's so inadequate. But still bless me anyway. I want more life.
And if he comes back, take him to court. He walked out on us, he ought to pay.

Prior: You are fabulous creatures, each and every one. And I bless you: More Life. The Great Work begins.