Tuesdays With Morrie Term Paper

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Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson (August 18, 1997) an autobiographical memoir by Mitch Albom about 14 very special, consecutive Tuesdays spent with his former Brandeis University sociology professor Morrie Schwartz as Morrie dies of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) is an inspiring synthesis of Morrie's ideas about life, as told to Mitch, and about life's most meaningful emotions; relationships, and experiences. Discernment of these is as important if not more so than those key events, experiences. Much of what people often consider important, e.g., material success; imitative worship of popular culture; professional status; are in fact infinitely less important than love and being loved. Morrie tells Mitch that much of what is thought important by society is only superficially important, if that. Those are major themes of the 14 lessons, taught on Tuesdays from Morrie's deathbed, to Mitch, his very last student. Life's "great lesson," as Morrie describes it, is to love and be loved; and nothing else in life is nearly as important.

These Tuesday meetings between Mitch, a journalist nearing 40, and his former professor from years back that he has not seen for 16 years, come about because Mitch had decided just a short while ago to finally look Morrie back up. Mitch had promised Morrie, at Mitch's Brandeis graduation back in 1979 that he would stay in touch. But he did not. When the now-dying professor and his past student finally meet again, at Morrie's house after Mitch has seen Morrie on Ted Koppel's Nightline discussing his losing battle with Lou Gehrig's disease, Mitch is experiencing a sort of metaphorical death of his own, even though he is perfectly healthy.

In his professional life after college Mitch realizes he has strayed far from Morrie's humanistic teachings, and embraced materialism. As a well-known sports writer for the Detroit Free Press, Mitch is also used to jetting off to places like Wimbledon to cover people like Andre Agassi (and his then-girlfriend Brooke Shields). Increasingly, he feels empty. Mitch's real love is music, but he has abandoned that in favor of high pay and continuous excitement. Mitch is overworked. He is only able to come see Morrie at all because his newspaper is on strike. At this point Mitch is suffering from sickness of the soul. The dying Morrie becomes, like before but now differently - Mitch's inspiration, and eventually, in death, the source of Mitch's emotional rebirth.

As a student at Brandeis University in the 1970's, Mitch absorbed some of Morrie's views on life partially or by association in various classes he took from Morrie then. But Morrie's most important lessons to Mitch come as Mitch nears 40. In the first, Morrie suggests to Mitch that popular culture should be rejected by an individual, and that one should formulate one's own 'popular culture" while living life in one's own way, and meaningfully, as Morrie himself has done. For example, Morrie's 'popular culture' is one he has formulated independently from the mass media. It consists of his interests, based on his own values, experiences, and the things that give him pleasure: dancing; friends, books, discussion groups on stimulating topics. Part of Mitch's discontentment, as Morrie implicitly suggests, is that Mitch bought into popular culture, which leaves him feeling empty and bereft, not happy or fulfilled. The theme of this first lesson is authenticity.

Morrie cries a lot these days. After first resenting and fearing that his ALS was rapidly making him as helpless as a baby, Morrie has come to accept his current helplessness along with the love his family, friends, and caregivers give him while dying, including their looking after his most basic needs. Morrie has at last learned, he suggests to Mitch, to accept his authentic self, for better or worse. Morrie wishes Mitch could cry as freely as he now can. Morrie recalls now that he had also tried, back when Mitch was in college, to get Mitch to cry, but could not. Morrie reminds Mitch now, using himself as an example, that crying freely is just part of being authentically oneself.

On the second Tuesday, after Morrie has returned from the bathroom with his aide, Connie, who must help him, Morrie talks about feeling lucky that he still has time to say good-bye to people who are important to him. Earlier, he had told Mitch he sometimes feels sorry for himself in the mornings, but works through it each day so he can enjoy the time he has left. The lesson here is to live now. Another, related lesson of this chapter is to limit one's "self-pity" time, but not to suppress it.

On the third Tuesday, Morrie suggests that he would have liked to be more reflective about life as he was living it, not just now as he is dying. His lesson to Mitch is to stand back occasionally, in the fullness of life, and reflect on what might be still missing.

Mitch learns another lesson of importance on the third Tuesday: he can do without a cell phone and its constant intrusions on his time with Morrie. The popular culture outside, even as related to his job, deserves to take a back seat to the more authentic 'popular culture' Morrie has created for himself, that Mitch is learning about on these Tuesdays.

When Mitch visits Morrie the fourth Tuesday, Morrie says he had to be very adult and independent as a child. He yearned for physical affection because his mother died when he was eight and his father was very cold to Morrie and his brother. Now Morrie can finally accept the truth that he enjoys physical affection from friends, family, and caregivers that he has never had in childhood. We learn also of the importance of education in Morrie's life, as instilled in him by his stepmother Eva. The lesson here is about second chances and recognizing when they come, in whatever form they do. Morrie's second chance came from Eva; Mitch's comes from Morrie. On their fifth Tuesday Morrie discusses the value of supportive, loving family relationships. He tells Mitch: "If you don't have the support and love and caring and concern that you get from a family, you don't have much at all. Love is so supremely important." second lesson of this chapter has to do with Morrie's being vulnerable and loved at once; vulnerability attracts rather than repels love.

Morrie reveals some things about his career as a Brandeis University professor when he and Mitch meet on their seventh Tuesday. From this meeting, various lessons emerge, sometimes implicitly. During the Vietnam War years of the 1960's, Morrie had been opposed to the war, and gave students a's, deservedly or not, to help them avoid the draft. Morrie's actions imply that at times, rules need to be bent to protect people or in service of a higher ideal. Morrie also recalls a standoff between black student activists and the Brandeis administration. Morrie had put an end to this by learning what the students wanted and presenting it to the administration. Just listening to the opposition can go a long way toward peace and reconciliation.

On the eighth Tuesday Mitch and Morrie talk about a newspaper article in which CNN founder Ted Turner expresses disappointment that he has not owned CBS. In response to that, Morrie states "You can't substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship. Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness. I can tell you, as I'm sitting here dying, when you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you're looking for, no matter how much of them you have." Morrie's lesson is that in the final analysis, the things Ted Turner yearns for matter little. What matters is love and close ties with others. Morrie suggests it is too bad people so often do not realize this until ill or dying.

The next Tuesday Mitch spends with Morrie, their ninth, Morrie tells Mitch his own tombstone should read, "A Teacher to the Last." Morrie's own proudest accomplishment has nothing to do with money and everything to do with knowledge and relationships, including his relationship with Mitch. He suggests to Mitch something important about immortality (living on in others' minds after death:.".. love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone."

The tenth Tuesday Mitch brings his wife Janine to meet Morrie, now near death. Even when talking on the phone before they meet, Janine and Morrie relate like old friends. Mitch is impressed and doubts he could be so comfortable on the phone with a stranger. He sees, though, that one need not know another long to have a bond. When Janine and Morrie meet, she sings for him; and her singing moves him to tears. Even now Morrie is seeking, and savoring new experiences, reminding Mitch that life, even at the end, is to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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