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In the Exposition, introductory material is presented which gives the reader the setting, creates the tone and presents the characters and other facts necessary to understanding the story. The exposition takes place through the first four chapters. “The Curriculum” (1) tells us that there will be a class taught, on the meaning of life, by a teacher who is dying; his death would come at the end of the course. The author also tells us that he is the student. In the second chapter the author presents background information on Morrie Schwartz: the teacher. We learn information about Morrie: he is a teacher, he loves to dance and he has been diagnosed with ALS. The following chapter presents background information about the author and narrator, Mitch Albom. We learn here that he is a sports reporter for the Detroit Free Press and that he is very wealthy and successful. “The Audiovisual” (18) is the final chapter in the exposition in which the narrator describes how he first knew of Morrie’s sickness, which leads him to these weekly Tuesday visits with Morrie. After this chapter all of the background information, and major characters have been introduced and from here on, the action begins to rise as Mitch visits Morrie every Tuesday.
The Rising Action is the events that build from the conflict. There are two conflicts in this story: the first being Morrie’s struggle with his fatal disease, ALS; the second being Mitch’s struggle with himself in dealing with the person he has become and the person who he wishes to be and the new life he wants to lead. The action begins to rise after Mitch sees Morrie on the “Nightline” show. He has not seen or spoken to Morrie in over sixteen years. After Mitch sees Morrie on “Nightline” he contacts him and begins to visit him every Tuesday for lessons which all encompass the meaning of life. The action rises throughout the novel with each new lesson as we see Mitch struggle with his life and Morrie struggle with his impending death.
The climax is the high point of the story and also the point at which the outcome can be predicted. The climax in this story does not happen until the last Tuesday Mitch and Morrie spend together. Throughout the novel and for the entire time Morrie has known Mitch, he has been trying to get him to open up and express more emotion. When they meet again, towards the beginning of the novel, Morrie tells Mitch that he is still going to try and make him cry. After all these years, during their last visit Mitch hugged Morrie for what will be the last time and began to cry. From here on the action begins to fall as we can predict the outcome will be Morrie’s death.
The Falling Action is the events after the Climax, which close the story and lead to the resolution. The falling action begins just after Morrie makes Mitch cry. Morrie dies not too long after and Mitch attends his funeral.
The resolution is the outcome of all the events in the story. During one of the Tuesday lessons, Morrie says to Mitch, “you talk I’ll listen” (188); implying that after his death he still wants Mitch to talk with him just as he did when he was alive. At the end of the novel, when Mitch is at Morrie’s funeral he tried talking with Morrie and was pleasantly surprised at how natural it felt. We can assume that Mitch will continue to find comfort and guidance in his life through these conversations with Morrie.
With his new outlook on life, Mitch also tried contacting his sick brother in Spain. For the first time, Mitch told his brother how much he wanted to be a part of his life and how much he loves him. At the end of the novel we can tell that Mitch and his brother will continue to remain in contact as opposed to before.
THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS
“Love each other or die” (163)
Morrie stresses this quote and theme throughout the novel. He feels that an abundance of love and compassion is the highest sense of fulfillment that one can experience. The expression of love and compassion is very important to Morrie, especially since he lacked such expression in his childhood. With the early death of his mother, and his busy father, Morrie did not feel a sense of love until Eva came into their home. Eva nurtured and cared for him as if he was her own child and Morrie carried this sense of love and compassion with him for the rest of his life. Because he was void of love at an early age, for the rest of his life he continuously offered his love and compassion to others.
Love is also important to Morrie as he is nearing the final days of his life. He feels that without the care of those who love him, he would perish. Morrie is not afraid of dying, as he so often tells us throughout the novel, but he hangs on because he wants to share his story and his lessons to Mitch and the rest of the world. Morrie lives long enough to express the essence of his teachings to Mitch (love, compassion and acceptance); he then allows himself to be released to death. He leaves Mitch and the readers, with his message that love brings meaning to life and that without it, we may as well be dead.
Acceptance through Detachment
Throughout the novel Morrie, continuously talks about detaching himself from his experience, especially when he suffers from violent coughing spells. Morrie bases this theory of detachment, from a Buddhist philosophy. He feels that no one should cling to anything, and that everything that exists is impermanent. Through detaching himself, he is able to remove himself from his surroundings into his own consciousness. This way he is able to gain perspective in uncomfortable and stressful situations. However, Morrie does not use this method to stop feeling or experiencing; he actually wants to experience the situation fully. After he experiences a certain feeling he is then able to let go and detach himself. He practices this often during life threatening situations, such as his severe coughing spells, because he does not want to die upset or scared. He detaches himself so that he can accept these situations in his life and so that he will be able to embrace his death easier since it is approaching.
Popular culture vs. self-created values
Morrie’s lessons also center around this theme that we should reject pop-culture values and standards, to develop our own sense of values. Morrie feels that pop-culture resembles a dictator under which we all suffer. Throughout his life, Morrie has been successful at rejecting this dictatorship and creating his own culture based on love, compassion, acceptance and communication. Morrie feels that the media drives greed and violence, which is then promoted by pop-culture. He was successful at reevaluating his own life and what he feels is true fulfillment. We also see how unfulfilled Mitch seems to be with his busy working life and material aspirations. Through his lessons, Morrie was able to open Mitch’s eyes to see what really fulfills one in life.
POINT OF VIEW
The story is told in the first person, limited point of view. In the first person, the narrator does participates in the action of the story; however, it is important to note that since the narrator is taking part in the action, he or she may not be telling the objective truth. The point of view is also limited because Albom’s knowledge is limited to only himself and he is not all knowing or omniscient.