Tuesdays with Morrie Analysis

  • Mitch Albom's Tuesday meetings with Morrie Schwartz take the form of a one-on-one class about the meaning of life and death. Morrie, a former professor, has been diagnosed with ALS and knows that his death is imminent. Nevertheless, he devotes himself to Mitch's education, sharing his philosophy of life with the unhappy journalist, who has given up on his dreams.
  • Mitch Albom's memoir presents a faithful account of his time with Morrie Schwartz, his real-life professor and mentor, who really was interviewed by Ted Koppel on Nightline. Koppel was so moved by Morrie's story and outlook on life that he did a three-part series on Morrie, recordings of which have been made available to readers.
  • Tuesdays with Morrie is a deceptively simple book written in a spare, straight-forward style. Albom employs flashbacks to provide background information about Morrie, but otherwise the narrative proceeds chronologically, structured around the fourteen Tuesday visits Mitch pays to Morrie. Mitch's story resonated with readers and enjoyed over two hundred weeks on the bestseller lists.

Literary Criticism and Significance

Tuesdays With Morrie is that rare piece of work which has both depth of meaning and tremendous universal appeal. Deceptively brief and easy to read, the book was on the New York Times Best Sellers list for over two hundred weeks after its initial publication in 1997. In the book, the author, Mitch Albom, recounts his weekly meetings with his mentor Morrie Schwartz over the final fourteen weeks of the old professor's life, organizing the material appealingly like a course syllabus, complete with descriptions of audiovisuals and an outline of topics to be discussed during each class period. The author intersperses brief flashbacks at regular intervals in the framework, providing background for the two main characters—himself and Morrie—so that the reader can better understand their relationship. There is no grading involved in Morrie's last class, in keeping with his philosophy of withholding judgement upon others. Instead of a graduation ceremony, there is a funeral. The tone of the book is intensely personal, and its format lends itself to reader involvement. Mitch and Morrie reveal themselves in simple dialogue and the reader quickly gets to know them as friends.

Despite its simple presentation, however, the book's content is deeply meaningful and significant. Mitch's portrayal of death is in no way sugar-coated, and Morrie's philosophy of life goes straight to the core of all that is important and true. The book has been recognized for its realistic description of the dying process and its sensitive delineation of the needs of the dying; because of its skillful and in-depth handling of pertinent issues of life and death and its treatment of death as a natural act, Tuesdays With Morrie has been recommended and used successfully as text material in university-level courses on the subject of death and dying. The book was made into a TV movie in 1999, and is available on both videotape and DVD. The initial "Nightline" interview between Ted Koppel and Morrie Schwartz which brought Mitch and Morrie back together, as well as two subsequent interviews, are also available for supplementary viewing.