Tuesdays with Morrie Chapter 6 Summary

In "The Sixth Tuesday: We Talk about Emotions," Charlotte, Morrie's wife, greets Mitch at the door. Normally, he doesn't see her because she has continued working at MIT at Morrie's request. When Mitch showed her the food he brought, she smiled but admitted that Morrie hasn't been eating much lately. The food had become too hard for him to swallow, so he ate only soft things and liquids. Mitch was surprised that Morrie hadn't told him, but Charlotte said Morrie didn't want to hurt Mitch's feelings. Health care workers stayed at the house twenty-four hours a day now because Morrie would often cough for hours trying to get the phlegm out of his throat. Charlotte had to put up with constant visitors in her house, which had to be difficult as her time with her husband had become much more precious. When asked about his coughing, Morrie told Mitch that he detached himself from the experience. He didn't let it fully take over him but instead tried to move away from it so that it would not consume him. Mitch watched Morrie experience a violent coughing spell that left him gasping for air. Morrie asked Mitch to close the window because he was cold even though it was a beautiful day outside. Morrie told Mitch that he wanted to die peacefully, not having a coughing fit or in some stage of fear and also not yet.

Mitch then flashes to a brief conversation that he and Morrie had about reincarnation. Morrie told Mitch that he would want to come back as a gazelle because they are beautiful and swift creatures. Looking at Morrie trapped in his bed, Mitch could understand that.

"The Professor: Part Two" talks about an early job that Morrie took observing mental patients. Morrie took notes on the bizarre behaviors of these disturbed individuals. He noticed that these people seemed to crave compassion. Mitch then talked about when Morrie began teaching at Brandies in the sixties. One time some African American students launched a protest on campus. After several weeks, one of the students called to Morrie to come in through the window of the building that they had taken over. After an hour Morrie crawled back out with their list of demands that he brought to the university president. They were able to break up the protest. Morrie's former students came from all over the world to visit him in his last few months of life. He had clearly made a tremendous impact on many people.

In another sidebar chapter, Mitch explains that his talks with Morrie lead him to read up on how different cultures view death. Some people believe that since all things have a soul, when something living dies, that soul slips into something else that is living near it or drifts into the sky where it waits to be sent back to earth. They believe all people eventually return to the earth.

In "The Seventh Tuesday: We Talk about the Fear of Aging," Morrie's fear had finally come true, and someone now had to wipe his behind for him. He had become dependent on others for everything except breathing and swallowing. Morrie admitted that because our culture teaches us that we should be independent, it was hard for him at first, but he gave in to it and tried to enjoy it. He treated it like being a baby again, and feeling someone's love and attention for him felt nice. Mitch admitted that our culture tends to prize the young. He didn't see many elderly faces on billboards or in commercials. Personally, he would watch his weight and check his hairline to make sure he didn't age prematurely. Morrie believed that people should see the value of growing old. Young people are often very confused and depressed by life, but as we grow older, we learn more and find meaning in life. Morrie admitted that he did envy young people in the way they can easily move about, but then he remembers that he had that time in his life, and now he needs to focus on the good parts about this time in his life. He wonders how people can envy things that they have already had.

Mitch then puts in a very short poem by Morrie's favorite poet, W. H. Auden. "Fate succumbs many a species: one alone jeopardizes itself." This poem reflects on how humans are the only living creatures that cause their own species to die off.

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