Old Professor-New Lessons Tuesdays With Morrie Essay, Research Paper
English 101 T, Th
December 2, 2000
Thesis: In the novel Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Aldom gains a new understanding on life’s lessons taught by his old professor Morrie.
I. The lesson on the second Tuesday in the novel is feeling sorry for oneself.
II. The lesson on the fourth Tuesday is death.
III. The lesson on the fifth Tuesday is family.
IV. The lesson on the eighth Tuesday is money.
V. The lesson on the tenth Tuesday is marriage.
Old Professor-New Lessons
Mitch Albom attended many classes taught by Morrie Schwartz during his years at Brandeis University, but he does not attempt to learn the meaning of life until he is in his forties. The knowledge of his favorite professors illness forces Mitch to rekindle an old friendship. In the process of finding an old friend, Mitch acquires many life lessons that give him a new meaning to his existence.
Mitch and Morrie meet on Tuesdays. On the second Tuesday, the topic of discussion is feeling sorry for oneself. On this day Mitch asks Morrie, “Do you feel sorry for yourself.” (Albom 56) Morrie responds:
Sometimes in the mornings, that’s when I mourn. I mourn what I have lost. I mourn the slow, insidious way in which I’m dying. But then I stop mourning. I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on all the good things in life. I don’t allow myself any more self-pity than that.
Mitch is amazed how well Morrie takes his illness. People in Morrie’s situation sit around and feel sorry for themselves. The idea of putting a daily limit on self-pity is a revolutionary idea for Mitch. This lesson shows Mitch that time on earth is precious and to find a ray of light in life’s darkest days.
On the forth Tuesday the lesson deals with death and the appreciation of life. Morrie explains to Mitch that people run from death by filling time with insignificant activities. Morrie asks:
Mitch can I tell you something? The truth is if you accept that you can die at any time then you might not be so ambitious. The things you spend so much time on-all this work you do-might not seem as important. (Alden 85)
Morrie tries to instill in Mitch that the little things in life are important. Conversations, nature, laughing, and friends are what make life worth living. One can see as the novel progresses that Mitch gains value in this lesson. Mitch does not burry himself in work for his company, but he finds true meaning through the project he develops with Morrie. The visits with Morrie, gaining information, and writing Morrie’s lessons become important.
The fifth Tuesday deals with the issue of family. Mitch has a younger brother that is stricken with pancreatic cancer. Mitch’s brother flees from his family in desperation to find a cure for his disease. This has left a distance between Mitch and his brother. Mitch wants to revive his relationship with his brother, but he does not know if his brother wants to be revived. In one simple quote, Morrie changes Mitch’s outlook on the situation. “Love each other or perish.” (Alden 91) One can see as the novel progresses, Mitch makes attempts to become closer to his brother. Mitch’s experiences with Morrie help him appreciate life. One can get the feeling that Mitch will never take a relationship for granted again, especially one with his brother.
On the eighth Tuesday the conversation moves to money. Morrie believes society is too materialistic. Morrie says people believe more is good: owning more things, more money, more commercialism, and more property. Morrie has an interpretation for this. “These were people so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes. They were embracing material things and expecting a sort of hug back. But it never works.”(Albom 125) During this conversation Mitch is writing notes. Mitch does not want Morrie to see his eyes because he knows that everything Morrie is talking about he, himself has been chasing. One can interpret this as a revelation for Mitch. Mitch now realizes what is important in life. Mitch also makes attempts to shed his material existence, although he does not know it. His continuous visits with Morrie give him more satisfaction than work. Morrie is changing Mitch’s life with his lessons and his presence.
The tenth Tuesday speaks of marriage. Morrie states a few rules he has on the subject:
If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, your gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. The biggest one of those values is your belief in the importance in you marriage. (Albom 149)
The novel does not go into detail about Mitch’s marriage, but one can see he change in attitude throughout the novel. Mitch has shed his identity in each lesson with Morrie. One can infer that Mitch will take each one of Morrie’s rules to heart and apply them in his life.
This statement sums up Mitch’s experience:
The last class of my old professor’s life took place once a week, in his home, by a window in his study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink flower. The class met on Tuesdays. No books were required. The subject was the meaning of life. It was taught from experience. The teaching goes on. (Albom 192)
The final class taught by his favorite professor is a life changing one. “The teaching goes on” is a powerful statement. Morrie’s teaching will be applied in everyday that Mitch Albom lives, as well as anyone that reads his story.
Albom, Mitch; Tuesdays with Morrie, New York
Dell Publishing Group 1997.