Chapter 6 Summary
In “The Classroom,” Mitch and Morrie have their first discussion about the meaning of life, but it is only preliminary. Albom uses this chapter to highlight some of the conflicts that drive his discussion of life in America. Surprisingly, Morrie seems to be happier in his state of dying than Albom is in his state of health and success. Morrie is surrounded by people who care about him. Over the years, he has influenced the minds of many students and others; Mitch is not the only one to have returned to pay his respects or to reconnect with the old professor.
It cannot be denied that Morrie is dying. Albom recalls how his mentor struggled to eat. Morrie even explains that he will die of suffocation. ALS has already taken Morrie’s legs. Because he is asthmatic, when the ALS begins to affect his lungs, Morrie will die. He invites Mitch to exhale while counting, and Mitch is able to reach 70. Morrie, in contrast, can only reach 18. He was able to reach 23 when he was first diagnosed. Morrie explains that he has become a symbolic bridge to people. He is not quite dead, but he is not as alive as most people around him are. Because dying is the final journey people take, many are curious about what they should “pack.”
At times during this conversation, Mitch feels awkward, but he and Morrie have a few moments that recall their former closeness, including when Mitch suddenly refers to Morrie as his coach. Morrie immediately admits that he is still Mitch’s coach. He here gives Albom advice that would haunt the younger man. He suggests:
The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong...
(The entire section is 443 words.)