Tuesdays with Morrie Chapter 1 Summary

This non-fiction book written by Mitch Albom describes his relationship with his college professor Morrie Schwartz told through a series of interviews that Mitch set up with Morrie once he found out that Morrie was dying of ALS. The first chapter, entitled "The Curriculum" compares these conversations to a college course that met on Tuesdays at Morrie's house where the topic was The Meaning of Life. He didn't take tests or receive grades, but Mitch learned a great deal from these lectures. The class ended with a funeral instead of a graduation. He says that he wrote one paper for this class, which is this novel.

The second chapter begins with a flashback to 1979. Mitch graduated from Brandeis University in Massachusetts. After the ceremony, he found Morrie, his favorite teacher, and introduced him to his parents. Morrie told Mitch's parents that Mitch had taken every class that Morrie taught. To thank him, Mitch bought Morrie a briefcase with his initials on it. Morrie tells him to keep in touch and walks away crying.

The third chapter, "The Syllabus," explains how fifteen years later in 1994 Morrie had to give up dancing. He was a professor of sociology, but he loved to dance. In his sixties, he developed asthma then he began to have trouble walking. In August that year, he and his wife Charlotte were told that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. There is no cure, and it's terminal, so he was going to die; it would just be a question of when. Soon after he could no longer drive, then he began to use a cane, and then he couldn't dress himself. That fall he came before his Social Psychology class and announced that he might not live to see the end of the semester. He revealed his secret and allowed his class to decide whether they wanted to stick around or drop the class. Doctors suspected Morrie had less than two years to live. People who have been diagnosed almost never live more than five years beyond the diagnosis. The disease works its way up the body. It begins by incapacitating the legs, then the trunk muscles so people can't support themselves, and finally the lungs and the vocal chords. Morrie didn't want to be embarrassed by the disease. He began to urinate into a large beaker because it was easier, but he would need someone to hold it for him. He did not want to be treated with sympathy because he did not want to be seen as useless. He began to use a wheelchair. Morrie decided before he went he wanted to have a living funeral where he could attend the ceremony and hear the things that people had to say about him, so he did. He enjoyed it greatly.

The fourth chapter, "The Student," jumps back to focusing on Mitch. He explains how he lost touch with almost everyone he knew in college. His dream had been to play professional piano, but it didn't go well. Then his favorite uncle died at age forty-four of pancreatic cancer. Mitch decided he needed to do something more substantial with his life, so he got a master's degree in journalism. He moved around a lot and mostly wrote sports columns for different newspapers. After having dated for seven years, he finally married Janine, so due to his busy life, he initially did not hear about Morrie's illness.

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