To identify how writing this work helped Mitch Albom (the author) understand himself in a way that he might not have had he refrained from visiting his former Brandeis mentor, Morris “Morrie” Schwartz, one should look for places in the book that pressure Albom to take a hard look at his life.
In the chapter called “The Student,” Albom expresses an understanding of his life that is far from rosy. Prior to his interactions with Morrie, Albom confesses that he had become materialistic. The work makes Albom consider how far he’s deviated from his idealistic college self. The talks with Morrie help Albom understand, or rediscover, that there’s probably more important things in life than buying houses, buying cars, and journalism accolades.
Indeed, throughout the work, Albom asks himself point-blank, “What happened to me?” In “The Classroom” specifically, Morrie asks Albom a series of soulful questions. He asks if he’s helping his community, if he’s at peace with himself, and if he’s found true love. These penetrating queries cause Albom to squirm. Albom’s reaction provides further proof that Morrie is pushing Albom to understand that his life may not be as meaningful as it could be.
While covering the famous Wimbledon tennis tournament, Albom goes into additional detail about his unfulfilling life. He rues spending “so many hours on things that mean absolutely nothing to” him. He wishes he was spending “quality time” with Morris, discussing meaty issues like love and death.
The “Conclusion” section cements Albom’s dismal understanding of his pre-Morrie life. Albom wishes he could travel back in time and tell his old self to ignore the messages manufactured by the West’s superficial culture. Albom understands that he can’t do such a thing; alas, Albom does understand that he can live his life from here on out in a way that’s more in keeping with the values of Morrie.