Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.

The Media

The media is continually portrayed in Tuesdays With Morrie as being inherently evil, sucking Mitch dry of his passion and ambition, and feeding the public stories of murder and hatred that have ravaged the goodness of the world's general community. Mitch, who is out of work due to a unionized strike at the Detroit newspaper he writes for, continually notices the horrific events reported by the media he for a long time has been a part of. He reads about homicides, torture, theft, and a dozen other gruesome crimes that serve to juxtapose the evil of the popular culture with the goodness of the world Morrie has created for himself. The O.J. Simpson murder trial also makes multiple appearances throughout the book, and provides Mitch with evidence to support his claim that the the general populous has become dependent on, and somewhat addicted to, media coverage of relatively meaningless stories, stories that contribute nothing to personal development or goodness as a human being.

Reincarnation and Renewal

Reincarnation and renewal are presented as facets of both life and death; in life, Morrie teaches that a person is ever-changing, and in death, looks forward to some form of new life with the natural progression of the life cycle. With Morrie as his mentor, Mitch is able to reincarnate himself in life, transforming a man who was once motivated by material wealth into a man who is motivated by a passion to love, and to emulate the man who has so touched his life. Morrie reveals that despite his old age, he is still changing, as every person does until their dying day.


Each Tuesday, Mitch brings with him a bag of food from the grocery store for Morrie to enjoy, as he knows that his professor's favorite hobby, second to dancing, is eating. Morrie can no longer dance, and soon, he can no longer eat the food that Mitch brings him, either, as his health and strength have deteriorated so much, he can no longer ingest solids. The food that he brings for Morrie serves as a reminder for Mitch of the days he and his professor would eat together in the cafeteria at Brandeis, when he had been young and passionate, and Morrie energetic and in good health. Now, Mitch has been corrupted by commercial wealth, and Morrie by his illness. Although he knows that Morrie can no longer eat solids, Mitch continues to bring food each week because he so fears Morrie's fast-approaching death. The food Mitch brings him acts as a means by which to cling to Morrie and the fond memories Mitch has of his favorite professor. Mitch also feels that food is the only gift he can give to Morrie, and feels helpless as to how to soothe him any other way.