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ESSAY TOPICS / BOOK REPORT IDEAS / STUDY QUESTIONS
1. How is popular culture and the media represented throughout the novel? Describe how Morrie has created his own culture. Pretending you are Mitch, use what you have learned from Morrie's teachings to outline a new set of your own cultural values by which you will begin leading your life.
2. Describe how Mitch has suffered under the demands of the media and pop-culture. Illustrate a personal experience where you may have suffered as a result of pop-culture values and demands; how did you escape and create your own values, like Morrie? If you were not able to, how could you apply Morrie's teachings to see through pop-culture values?
3. Morrie emphasizes the importance of love and compassion throughout the entire novel. What role does he feel they play in every day life? How has he come to realize how important love is? Provide specific examples from the novel.
4. Explain Morrie's theory on detachment; how has it helped him throughout his sickness? If he had not been successful at detaching himself from his experiences, do you think he would have lived as long as he did with ALS? How do you think it helped him stay somewhat content with his illness?
5. Describe what the pink hibiscus plant symbolizes.
6. Mitch brings Morrie food every Tuesday. Describe why you think Mitch continues to bring Morrie food that he knows he is unable to eat.
7. How did Morrie's childhood positively impact the remainder of his life? Explain how each of his family members (his father, brother, mother and stepmother) have played a role in his development.
8. Who inspired Morrie's love and motivation for education? Why did he decide to become a sociology professor?
9. Throughout the novel Morrie continually emphasizes the importance of accepting our imminent death. Elaborate on this theory and how it could affect they way in which we choose to live our lives. What does he mean by, "Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live." (82)?
10. Morrie expresses how he was never afraid to age. Describe how he see aging as growth and not decay, contrary to most people.
COMMENT ON THE STUDY OF LITERATURE
The study of literature is not like the study of math or science, or even history. While those disciplines are based largely upon fact, the study of literature is based upon interpretation and analysis. There are no clear-cut answers in literature, outside of the factual information about an author's life and the basic information about setting and characterization in a piece of literature. The rest is a highly subjective reading of what an author has written; each person brings a different set of values and a different background to the reading. As a result, no two people see the piece of literature in exactly the same light, and few critics agree on everything about a book or an author.
In this study guide, we have tried to give an objective literary analysis based upon the information actually found in the novel, book, or play. In the end, however, it is an individual interpretation, but one that we feel can be readily supported by the information that is presented in the guide. In your course of literature study, you or your professor/teacher may come up with a different interpretation of the mood or the theme or the conflict. Your interpretation, if it can be logically supported with information contained within the piece of literature, is just as correct as ours; so is the interpretation of your teacher or professor.
Literature is simply not a black or white situation; instead, there are many gray areas that are open to varying analyses. Your task is to come up with your own analysis that you can logically defend. Hopefully, these booknotes will help you to accomplish that goal.