How can Tuesdays with Morrie support or contradict the idea of the American Dream?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With its emphasis on how to live life in the face of death, I would suggest Tuesdays with Morrie challenges some tenets of the American Dream.

Economic considerations are significant parts to the American Dream. This consideration infuses itself into the American Dream where people work hard and enjoy a certain level of financial stature as a result of their work. They have "things" such as homes, cars, and opulent displays that mirror accomplishment. Morrie's experience with physical debilitation and the grace with which he still faces life transcend material considerations. No amount of wealth or "things" can replace what he experiences. Morrie must find the courage to live life in the face of death, and that is not something normally associated with the American Dream.

Another element of Tuesdays with Morrie that challenges the presuppositions behind the American Dream is its discussion of death. The traditional understanding of the American Dream is a celebration of life and the fruits associated with its labor. It emphasizes the temporal, elements that eventually succumb to time's passing. In contrast, the lessons Albom learns from Morrie are timeless meditations about how to live life with the unavoidable reality of death's finality. The scope and sequence of this discussion is far more expansive than what the American Dream affirms. The American Dream is more concerned with life, while Tuesdays with Morrie views life in the inescapable reach of death. The focal points differ from one another. In Morrie's lessons, there is a reach that goes beyond the American Dream.