It is March of 1995, and Ted Koppel is on his way to Morrie's house to conduct an interview with him for Nightline. By this point, Morrie is in a wheelchair, never to walk again, and eating is becoming more and more difficult. However, Morrie refuses to be upset, preferring instead to write down all sorts of ideas about living with death. He shares these with friends, one of whom passes them on to the Boston Globenewspaper, which then publishes a feature story about Morrie.
As Morrie's mobility diminishes, his desire to share what he's learning through his illness only increases. What he's sharing is in demand and interesting, as evidenced by the newspaper's interest in writing a profile on him. We are here introduced to how Morrie uses the media to spread his message.
Ted Koppel discovered Morrie through the article in the Boston Globe, and asked to interview Morrie about his life and his condition.With camera crews in Morrie's house, Morrie insists that he needs to speak to Koppel privately before agreeing to do the interview. In Morrie's office, he proceeds to grill Koppel about Koppel's faith and asks him to share something close to his heart. Koppel is hesitant but willing to engage. The two come to an agreement after laughing about Morrie's evaluation of Koppel as a narcissist, and Morrie agrees to the interview.
Morrie's interest in Koppel's personal beliefs will crop up again later, as generalized ideas about the creation of personal culture. Although Koppel is one of the primary faces of the media, which is overwhelmingly portrayed as a negative force in the book, Morrie is willing to engage with him and with the media to further promote his own ideas.
For the interview, Morrie refuses makeup or nice clothes, as he believes that death shouldn't be embarrassing. He discusses how he tries to live now, with dignity, humor, and composure, rather than withdraw from the world. Morrie tells Koppel about how he is becoming increasingly dependent on others to move and eat, and Koppel asks what Morrie dreads most about the disease. Morrie replies he's soon not going to be able to wipe himself after using the toilet.
For Morrie, this opportunity is the ultimate teaching moment, as he's going to be able to reach millions of potential “students” through the interview. His refusal of makeup points to Morrie's own acceptance of his death, and his unwillingness to sugarcoat for the masses becomes another part of his lesson.
The text returns to Mitch, who is flipping channels on his television. As he pauses at one channel, he hears Morrie'sname and goes numb.
Mitch’s reaction to the sound of Morrie's name shows he's still emotionally invested in his relationship with Morrie.
In a flashback to 1976, Mitch describes the beginning of his first college class with Morrie. Mitch, noticing the small class size, realizes that it will be a hard class to skip and thinks about not taking it. When calling attendance, Morrie asks Mitch if he prefers to go by Mitch or Mitchell, which startles Mitch because he's never been asked before by a professor. When Mitch responds that his friends call him “Mitch,” Morrie elects to use that name andtells Mitch that he hopes Mitch will think of him as a friend.
Morrie is immediately marked as kind and understanding by asking Mitch for a preferred name. He's not an average professor, as he seeks friendship rather than just the transfer of knowledge. This is how Morrie functions in his community, and Mitch is surprised by it. This foreshadows Mitch's inclusion in Morrie's community.