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There are two conflicts in this novel: the major conflict is Morrie vs. ALS and the second, minor conflict, is Mitch vs. himself. Morrie must come to terms with his illness and accept his coming death from ALS. In the meantime, Mitch, his former college student, visits him every Tuesday. Mitch has become very disillusioned with his fast-paced life and constant strive for materialistic possessions. He struggles to find meaning with his life and to change the person he has become in the sixteen years since he had last seen Morrie.
Morrie Schwartz is the protagonist of Tuesdays with Morrie; he is the character around which the action develops. Morrie is a loving, compassionate and accepting older man who is losing his life to the disease, ALS.
The disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is the antagonist of the story. This is the disease from which Morrie is suffering throughout the novel. We see the disease gradually begin taking over Morrie: he stops dancing; he then eventually is confined to his chair in his study; the disease then prevents him from eating solid foods and moving around without help. Eventually he is bed ridden and fully succumbed to the disease, which does finally take his life.
Mitch visits Morrie for the last time, when he is very close to his death; after years of trying to get Mitch to open up, Morrie finally succeeds at doing so by seeing him cry.
At Morrie’s funeral, Mitch has a conversation with Morrie, in his head, and feels at ease due to the familiarity of the conversation. Mitch also takes Morrie’s advice and contacts his brother in Spain. Another outcome of this story is the novel itself-Mitch relaying the story of a man who changed his life.
SHORT PLOT/CHAPTER SUMMARY (Synopsis)
Morrie Schwartz was Mitch Albom’s favorite college professor. At the start of the novel Albom recalls a memory from his college graduation day: he is saying goodbye to Morrie and gives him a tan briefcase with his initials on it. They hug and when Mitch steps back he sees that Morrie is crying. Mitch promises to stay in touch with Morrie but he never does after college.
Since his graduation, Mitch has become a newspaper reporter and husband. He leads a very fast paced life and is constantly working and traveling. He has become so engrossed in his work that it consumes his life.
The novel recommences about sixteen years after Mitch’s graduation day; Morrie has since been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Since Morrie’s diagnosis, he began jotting down ideas and thoughts onto scrap paper, yellow pads or even envelopes. He also wrote philosophies about living knowing death was very near. One of his friends was so taken with his writing, he sent them to the Boston Globe reporter, who wrote a feature story about Morrie. The story intrigued one of the producers of the show, “Nightline”, who then did a feature story about Morrie. Mitch happened to see the “Nightline” show and recognized his old professor. He called him to set up a visit.
Mitch began visiting Morrie every Tuesday. Their discussions ranged from the world, regrets, death, love and money; the purpose of their meetings was to discuss Morrie’s view on the meaning of life. Mitch became so intrigued by Morrie’s philosophies that he began taking notes and even recording Morrie.
Morrie’s philosophies included rejecting popular culture morals and following self-created values, loving others, and learning to accept death.
With each lesson, Morrie becomes increasingly sick; during their last meeting, Morrie was bed ridden and near death. As he and Mitch hugged for one last time, Morrie notices Mitch is finally crying.
Morrie dies a short time after. At his funeral Mitch tries having a conversation with Morrie, as he had wanted. Mitch feels a certain naturalness and comfort to this conversation and realizes that it happens to be Tuesday.
After Morrie’s death Mitch regains contact with his brother who lives in Spain and is battling cancer.