Tuesdays with Morrie

Tuesdays with Morrie The First Tuesday Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mitch arrives at Morrie's house with a variety of foods, and the two sit at Morrie's dining room table and eat. Conversation comes easier this time. At one point, Morrie comments that he doesn't understand why the newspaper strike isn't solved with communication. Morrie is drawing close to the day when he will no longer be able to wipe himself after using the bathroom, which bothers him. He tells Mitch that despite his increasing dependency on others, he's trying to enjoy it, as he gets a chance to be like a child again. Mitch makes a joke about finding the meaning of life through not taking out the garbage, and he is relieved that Morrie laughs.
With his gift of food, Mitch gets to regain his status as a good, “gift-bearing” student to some degree. Morrie's positive outlook and comment about the strike further illustrates how far outside of modern culture Morrie's world exists. The fact that Morrie is bothered by needing help in the bathroom, however, shows that there are still ways in which he has to grapple with rejecting modern culture and the “embarrassment” of death.
Themes
Teaching and Learning Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Culture and Religion Theme Icon
Movement and Change Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Noticing a pile of already-read newspapers, Mitch asks Morrie why he's bothering to keep up with the news. Morrie answers that he feels drawn to the stories of death, and feels for the victims more now that he's dying. Mitch muses to himself that he covers those stories for his job and feels little emotion for anyone involved. When Morrie begins to cry, Mitch is obviously uncomfortable, and Morrie promises him that he will make him see that it's okay to cry.
Mitch's cynical outlook stands in stark contrast to Morrie's overwhelming display of emotion. Here we see just how differently the two men handle emotion—Morrie is in touch and expressive, while Mitch is stoic and repressed. Morrie's promise only supports his next thesis that love, and by extension, emotion, are the most important things in life.
Themes
Teaching and Learning Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Movement and Change Theme Icon
Morrie says that the most important thing he's learning from being sick is how to give and accept love. Morrie quotes Stephen Levine, a poet and meditation teacher, saying "love is the only rational act." Mitch dutifully agrees, kissing Morrie on the cheek before he leaves, and promises to return the next Tuesday.
Mitch agrees dutifully, which indicates he doesn't fully believe Morrie. However, the kiss leads us to believe that he may be taking some of Morrie's wisdom to heart and is more willing to show emotion and physical affection.
Themes
Teaching and Learning Theme Icon
Movement and Change Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
In another flashback to the 70s, Mitch describes one of Morrie's classes. During the class, Morrie conducts an exercise on silence and human relations. He enters the classroom and sits in silence for 15 minutes, and then opens a conversation about the experience of sitting in silence. While other students are bothered by sitting in silence for 15 minutes, Mitch isn't, although he doesn't participate in the following conversation. Mitch tells the reader that he's quiet during the discussion because he's uncomfortable talking about his feelings. After class, when Morrie asks Mitch about his lack of participation, Mitch claims he had nothing to add to the discussion. Morrie says that Mitch reminds him of himself when he was younger.
This gives the first indication that Mitch hasn't always been the way he is in the present, and that at one point he didn't believe he had anything worth saying. Explicitly connecting Mitch and Morrie through similarities in their youths provides further basis for the more familial relationship they develop. We also see again the tension of opposites—Mitch surely has things to add to the discussion despite stating otherwise, but is too uncomfortable being openly emotional to share.
Themes
Teaching and Learning Theme Icon
Movement and Change Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
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