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Critical Analysis - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: “Tuesdays with Morrie”: Family and Money. In “Tuesdays with Morrie,” a true-life story, Mitch Albom gives a poignant, deeply moving account of the hours spent with his former Professor, Morrie Schwartz, as Morrie approaches the end of his life…
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“Tuesdays with Morrie Family and Money. In “Tuesdays with Morrie,” a true-life story, Mitch Albom gives a poignant, deeply moving account of the hours spent with his former Professor, Morrie Schwartz, as Morrie approaches the end of his life. The narrative spans both Morrie’s and Mitch’s thoughts, incorporating flashbacks to give a complete picture of the lives and characters of the two protagonists. Mitch is a sports journalist, who has renounced his dreams of becoming a concert pianist in order to attain financial security and professional success. Morrie has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and has only weeks to live. Morrie, who once taught Mitch Sociology, now gives his past student a lesson on the meaning of life. Morrie’s gentle discourse, which spans thirteen Tuesdays, is focused on the themes of family and money, and the comparative merit of each in leading a meaningful life. To Morrie, family is the very “foundation” (91) of love. As Mitch and his former Professor talk about the family on the fifth Tuesday, Morrie give us one of the most beautiful quotes in the book: “Without love, we are like birds with broken wings” (92). Morrie declares that the most precious thing a family imparts to life is “spiritual security” (92): the absolute confidence that comes from the knowledge that one’s family will always watch out for one’s well-being. It is the family which makes suffering easier to bear. Children are not a burden but one of the greatest experiences of a lifetime. Even as Morrie ensures that there is a veritable “waterfall of affection” (93) between him and his two sons, he gives his children the freedom to fashion their own lives. Morrie declares that having children is the only way “to learn how to bond and to love in the deepest way” (93). The only disadvantage of the familial bond is the pain of parting. Morrie’s definition of family life leads Mitch to ponder on his own painful relationship with his younger brother. Mitch resents the fact that although he was the ‘good’ student, it was his brother who remained the “family favorite” (95). He suffers pangs of guilt when his brother is struck by cancer: “It’s supposed to be me” he thinks (96). Above all, he is deeply hurt by his brother’s rejection in his time of suffering. Money is the focus of Mitch and Morrie’s discussion on their eight Tuesday together. Watching Morrie as he nears death, Mitch is increasingly aware that “material things held little or no significance” (124) for the Professor. Morrie rues the societal conditioning which has made the culture of money widespread. His insight is that people attempt to “substitute material things for love” (125) and fail. True wealth lies in tenderness, comradeship, family and love. Morrie emphasizes that it is giving which bestows genuine satisfaction in life. He defines his formula for a meaningful life: devoting one’s life to loving others and “creating something that gives you purpose and meaning” (127). The Professor points out that a salary does not contribute to happiness. Mitch becomes aware of the irrelevance of his own pursuit of material things in his search for security. Morrie urges him to “Do the kind of things that come from the heart” (128). This is the only way to lead a satisfied life. By contrasting the emotional value of a family with the monetary value of material things, Morrie makes Mitch aware of the true meaning of life. The Professor reiterates, time and again, the motivating dictum of his life: “Love is so supremely important” (91). And it is the family which is the embodiment of love. Aware of Mitch’s search for fame and financial security, Morrie emphatically declares that it is the loving family which provides security and “not money” (92). True satisfaction in life comes from giving others of one’s self, in the form of time and concern, and not from money. As Morrie discourses on his experiences and insights on the family and money, Mitch ponders on his own life. He confronts his pain in the knowledge that his younger brother “did not want me around” (94) in his hour of need. He realizes that his pursuit of fame and wealth is not a substitute for a family. Money is reduced to insignificance in the face of emotional investment. It is the family which is the foundation of security, and love which makes life meaningful. Morrie, in spite of his “rapidly depleting” (126) bank account, lives in “a wealthy home” because it is filled with the emotional wealth of love and caring people. Money becomes irrelevant in the face of death. Morrie Schwartz’ last lesson to Mitch Albom is based on the meaning of life. Morrie remains a great teacher to the end. With his beautifully phrased discourse on family and material wealth, he succeeds in making his student realize the true meaning of life. In the final analysis, fame, professional success and material wealth contribute nothing to the value of life. It is love which makes the world go round. Material success cannot save anyone from loneliness, or provide the support to get one through times of suffering and need. Life remains empty until it is filled with the love and care of a family, the companionship of friends, and the happiness which comes from devoting oneself to the welfare of others. Money cannot buy happiness. The pursuit of wealth is only “a smokescreen” (127) which blinds one from the true meaning of life. Mitch’s “Tuesdays with Morrie” clear the obscuring smoke and show him the true meaning of his life. Works cited. Albom, Mitch. “Tuesdays with Morrie.” Firmage, George J. Doubleday. Library of Congress. September 1997.   Read More
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