Summary of The Curriculum - The Audiovisual
Tuesdays with Morrie begins with author Mitch Albom summarizing and foreshadowing what the reader is about to read; his old college professor used the final months of his life to teach one of his old students all he know about the subject. The reader learns there were no books, but that many topics such as love, work, community, family, aging, forgiveness, and death were covered. Instead of graduation, a funeral would be held. The final exam is the book you are holding in your hands. The theme of the book is the meaning of life, which would be Morrie's final lesson to Mitch.
The book then flashes back to the author's point of view. The rest of the story will be told from his recollection of his relationship with Morrie. He goes back to the setting of 1979 at his graduation from Brandeis College. His tone takes a prideful swing as he remembers introducing his parents to his wonderful professor, Morrie Schwartz. As a thank you gift, Mitch presents Morrie with a monogrammed briefcase and promises to keep in touch.
The foil in the book is not a person. Instead, the "character" that contrasts with our protagonist, Morrie, will be the disease of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This foil/antagonist will be Morrie's death sentence. He will not be able to partake in his favorite activity of dancing anymore, as his body will slowly deteriorate, starting with the legs and working its way up until Morrie suffocates. Morrie is told he has mere months to live. He ponders his life, thinking, “Do I wither up and disappear or do I make the best of my time left?” Morrie opts not to be ashamed of dying and to make the most of his final months.
He takes pills, attends therapy, and has live-in nurses for aid. He slowly starts to lose his ability to do the little things: drive a car, walk without a cane, go the restroom on his own. However, Morrie refuses to be ashamed to ask for help. His positive attitude draws a multitude of visitors. He holds a living funeral in his home, so he can hear what people have to say about him. He thought it would be a waste never to know their true feelings. From here, Albom foreshadows again saying, “In fact, the most unusual part of his life was about to unfold.”
After getting the background on Morrie's diagnosis, the reader gets to learn about the other protagonist, the author, Mitch. He says after that college graduation day, he did not keep in touch with his old professor. This fact would be a conflict in Mitch's life, loading him with guilt. The 20-something left for New York City with a dream of being a famous musician, a piano player. However, for the first time in his life, he failed at an endeavor. The wakeup call of his uncle dying from cancer was a big part of the characterization of Mitch. He realized he was going to die eventually and needed something to show for his life. As a result, he went back to school and got a masters degree in journalism.
With this degree, Mitch took the first job that he was offered, that of a sports writer. He eventually took a job with the Detroit Free Press. He started to become very successful and make lots of money. He lived on a deadline. He got married after a seven-year courtship. He never had children because he was always working. He would think about his old professor, but never visit or call because he was too busy living his own life. He says it always would have been that way, had he not been clicking through the television channels one night.
Mitch comes across his old professor by a chance viewing of "Nightline" with Ted Koppel on ABC. Morrie had been writing his philosophies on life and sharing with friends. This story reached the Boston Globe, and a "Nightline" producer saw it in the paper, prompting a visit from Koppel and crew. Before doing the interview, Morrie had to "check Koppel out" and get to know him off camera. He was not star struck by the newscaster. He wanted to know his viewpoints on family, faith and his heart. He told Koppel he thought he was a narcissist. Nevertheless, he did the interview. During the interview, Morrie tells Koppel his biggest fear is not dying, but getting to the point where someone is going to have to wipe his behind.
Analysis of The Curriculum - The Audiovisual
The book starts out with a prologue to set the story up for the reader. This is done with the author, Mitch Albom, using a brief flashback to remark on his time with his old college professor, Morrie. In this prologue, the reader gets the first metaphor. This is of a pink hibiscus plant that is shedding its pink leaves. The plant is still beautiful, but is deteriorating, day-by-day. This is the metaphor for Mitch's time with Morrie as well. Morrie's health is deteriorating due to age and ALS disease, therefore so is their time together.
Time is a theme the reader will see throughout the book. Albom uses flashbacks in time to show his time with Morrie. Going back to their early time together sets up the story and helps the reader identify with the two protagonists. The reader can gain a similar appreciation of Morrie that Mitch does, because they get to meet him in his healthy stage, like Mitch, and watch his life wind down, also like Mitch. The technique that Albom uses here really ties the reader to the story and its characters.
The reader is also introduced early on to another theme of the story is the meaning of life. Morrie was a teacher until the end. He used the end of his life to teach Mitch about the important things, fully knowing that Mitch was going to turn the stories into a book (we later learn that he even helped pick the title). Through topics of culture, love, family, work and regrets, Morrie makes his final lesson the meaning of life. Each Tuesday, he presents a different lesson. This was probably done so that Mitch would have a full week to reflect on the teaching before moving onto the next one. Morrie knew that each topic was important and he wanted to give time to let each one sink in.
This book really only has one protagonist. This villain is not a human, but the disease of ALS that is making the end of Morrie's life difficult. However, one most consider what would have not happened if Morrie would not be stricken with this fatal disease. Mitch went to visit Morrie because he saw him being interviewed by Ted Koppel. Morrie would not have been the subject of an interview if he weren’t sick, so Mitch wouldn't have seen him and become compelled to visit the professor. While the disease was bad, it was also the catalyst that reunited the teacher and student.
Characterization starts to take place early in the book. In the section The Student, the reader learns about Mitch's early adult life after college. This helps to develop his character as we learn how he lived his life and why he made some of the decisions he made. We learn he becomes a workaholic who tended not to focus on the important things in life. This development of his character helps the reader understand why Morrie's lessons were so important and needed.