What is the significant relationship between the two characters in author Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mitch Albom's 2009 nonfiction book Tuesdays with Morrie relates the author's weekly sessions at the bedside of his former academic mentor, Morrie Schwartz, a college professor dying from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS. Mitch had committed to staying in touch with his former professor following graduation, but his professional travails and ambitions have diverted his attentions and the relationship becomes moribund, This changes when Albom, watching the television program Nightline one evening, sees Schwartz being interviewed. Putting aside his professional focus, Albom begins to visit his former professor every Tuesday until the latter's demise, each session a new opportunity to learn from the slowly dying Morrie the importance of embracing life and not getting caught-up in the drive for material gain. It is not, the dying old man emphasizes, money and material items that provide true happiness, but the loved ones that surround you and the pursuit of a life dedicated to something more than professional ambition.

The significance of the relationship between the two characters in Albom's book, the author and his former professor, lies in the important insights the former gains from the latter. Morrie Schwartz has come to terms with his mortality and rests easily in the knowledge that his life was lived well. He is surrounded by loved ones, and he has sublimated material ambitions to the eternal pleasures of an existence steeped in personal relationships and the pursuit of knowledge. In his closing remarks, Albom states the following:

I look back sometimes at the person I was before I rediscovered my old professor. I want to talk to that person. I want to tell him what to look out for, what mistakes to avoid. I want to tell him to be more open, to ignore the lure of advertised values, to pay attention when your loved ones are speaking, as if it were the last time you might hear them.

Albom has learned valuable lessons from Morrie. He has learned the importance of human relationships and the short-sightedness of material ambitions. He has learned that death is, as he writes, "the great equalizer, the one big thing that can finally make strangers shed a tear for one another."

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The two characters with the significant relationship in this book are Mitch (the author) and Morrie Schwartz, his college professor who he once promised he'd keep in touch with.

As it turned out, Mitch grew up and never did reconnect with the man who, in college, taught him several life-lessons about relationships and keys to a happy and succesful life.  Then one night, Mitch sees Morrie on a TV interview with Ted Koppel.  He is dying from ALS.  This sparks Mitch's desire to go see his old professor, which turns into a series of visits, all on Tuesdays, and later, what Mitch turns into this book--a record of his "last class" with Morrie.

The main significance of the relationship is unique to Mitch but not to Morrie.  Morrie is a man who makes deep and personal conenctions with those around him.  Mitch, on the other hand, has been living a very lonely and independent success-driven life.  Morrie teaches him how to reconnect with himself and others and through his genuinely positive attitude, he shows Mitch how to appreciate life for what it is.  Ironically, the lessons taught are heightened by the fact that Morrie is dying, but certainly this is a man who would otherwise be just as effective in encouraging people (like Mitch) to do more and be more, simply by taking more time for friends, family, and appreciation of little things.