Tuesdays With Morrie

Tuesdays With Morrie

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Tuesdays With Morrie

 

Tuesdays With Morrie is a true novel based upon an older dying man's

outlook on life.  Throughout the story, the older man teaches his past

student about life as his body is slowly withering away from the " Lou

Gehrig's Disease."

 

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT:  Morrie Schwartz (the older man) teaches his student,

Mitch Albom, what really matters in life.  The only way that I can begin to

describe Morrie's character, is to quote an excerpt from pg. 10 regarding his

reaction after being diagnosed:

 

    " But my old professor had a profound decision, one he began to construct

the day he came out of the doctor's office with a sword hanging over his

head.  Do I wither up and disappear, or do I make the best of my time left?

He asked himself.  He would not wither.  He would not be ashamed of dying.

Instead he would make death his final project, the center point of his days.

Since everyone was going to die, he could be of great value, right?  He could

be research.  A human textbook.  Study me in my slow and patient demise.

Watch what happens to me.  Learn with me.  Morrie would walk that final

bridge between life and death, and narrate the trip."

 

    Based on his decision not to wither up and die, and instead use his

dying, as an opportunity to teach others what truly matters in life, shows

how unselfish and positive he really was.  Morrie didn't see his time spent

ill as a waste, instead, he said, and I quote, " I mourn my dwindling time,

but I cherish the chance it gives me to make things right." (Pg. 167)  As a

way to further carry out Morrie's wish to be useful, both Morrie and Mitch

decided to meet every Tuesday to study and discuss life's greatest lessons.

Not only do we see evidence of Morrie's character, we also see a change in

Mitch and his values.  With Morrie as a guide, Mitch begins to understand

that money, and materialistic wealth, have less significance than things such

as relationships, forgiveness, and love.

 

    IMAGERY:  An excerpt from the book, which related to imagery, was what

Morrie referred to as detachment.

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  As he was recovering from a violent

coughing spell, he began to explain to Mitch the ability to detach yourself

from your emotions.  He believed that experiencing life and the emotions that

go along with each situation were very important.  Morrie explained to Mitch

that it was necessary to experience and feel your emotions fully rather than

ignore them or pretend that they don't exist as so many of us do.  This is

more fully explained in an excerpt from pg. 105:

 

    " Morrie's approach was exactly the opposite.  Turn on the faucet.  Wash

yourself with the emotion.  It won't hurt you.  It will only help.  If you

let the fear inside, if you pull it on like a familiar shirt, then you can

say to yourself, "All right, it's just fear, I don't have to let it control

me.  I see it for what it is."  "Same for loneliness: you let go, let the

tears flow, feel it completely-but eventually be able to say, "All right,

that was my moment with loneliness.  I'm not afraid of feeling lonely, but

now I'm going to put that loneliness aside and know that there are other

emotions in the world, and I'm going to experience them as well."

 

    When Morrie detaches himself from his emotions, he is not simply ignoring

and blocking them, but experiencing them fully as well as separating himself

from them so that they will not control him.  In this sense at least he can

slightly escape the fear of his emotions without fully ignoring them.  Morrie

did not want to leave the world through a violent coughing spell, instead he

wanted to understand what was happening to him, find acceptance in it, and be

able to let go in a peaceful manner.

 

    THEME:  The theme of this book is about an old dying man who teaches his

young student about the true things that matter in life.  The excerpt

regarding the theme comes from pg. 1 of  "The Curriculum."  :

 

    "No grades were given, but there were oral exams each week.  You were

expected to respond to questions, and you were expected to pose questions of

your own.  You were also required to perform physical tasks now and then,

such as lifting the professor's head to a comfortable spot on the pillow or

placing his glasses on the bridge of his nose.  Kissing him good-bye earned

you extra credit.  No books were required, yet many topics were covered,

including love, work, community, family, aging, forgiveness, and finally

death."

 

    Morrie shared a lot of wisdom with Mitch regarding a lot of these

subjects.  For example he relates his suffering to the suffering of people in

the world and seems to feel closer to them now then he ever had before now

that he was suffering himself.  It was important for Morrie to let the world

know that it was okay to cry and mourn for one another.  Then he said, and I

quote, "The most important thing about life is to learn how to give out love

and to let it come in (pg. 52)."  Morrie found it absolutely imperative to be

able to let yourself forgive, love, etc.  Morrie had also made it clear that

although the disease was decaying his body, he would not allow it to decay

his spirit.

 

    SYMBOLISM:  There were many things throughout the course of the book that

represented or symbolized death.  One thing that troubled Mitch was the

oxygen tube that was placed in Morrie's nose when he was close to death.  An

excerpt from the book can be found on pg. 172, and I quote:

 

    "The oxygen tube was up his nose now.  I hated the sight of it.  To me,

it symbolized helplessness.  I wanted to pull it out."

 

    While Mitch had so much difficulty accepting the fact that his mentor was

quickly approaching death, Morrie had an entirely different viewpoint on the

situation.  Morrie accepted it with great dignity, and Mitch saw it as being

something horrible.  Although Mitch saw all of the medical equipment as a

negative (causing him to fear death), Morrie tried to help him understand

that he was at peace with it.  Following a terrible spell of coughing and

struggling for air, Morrie said this:  "Mitch, it was a most incredible

feeling.  The sensation of accepting what was happening, being at peace.  I

was thinking about a dream I had last week, where I was crossing a bridge

into something unknown.  Being ready to move on to whatever is next."

 

    Morrie's ultimate goal in life became to help Mitch be at peace with

living.  If Morrie were successful in teaching Mitch to find peace in living,

then perhaps his young friend would find greater meaning in his life, and

soon become less fearful of death.

 
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