Analysis

Communication without language serves as a prevalent theme throughout Tuesdays With Morrie, and is highlighted during his interview with Ted Koppel. Koppel seems mystified as to how a deaf man and a mute man could possibly communicate with one anot her, though Morrie understands that friendship runs deeper than mere words. As his condition deteriorates, Morrie becomes increasingly dependent on physical affection. This need is enhanced by his sudden physical reversion to infancy, and complete depende ncy on others for their care. Morrie's relationship with Mitch grows increasingly physical as Morrie's disease spreads; the men often hold hands as they converse, and gradually, Mitch overcomes his discomfort with displays of physical affection. His gradu al acceptance of affection is due to Morrie's teaching, and Mitch's realization that he must be open in his expression of love towards those he cares about. Morrie, however, has for a long time honored the idea of communication without words, and in a fla shback described in The First Tuesday, tests this idea in a class by keeping silent for fifteen solid minutes, then breaking the silence with discussion about the affect of silence on a relationship.

Morrie also uses his unabashed emotions to communicate with others, as he does during his interview with Koppel, when he sheds tears for his mother, who had died seventy years prior. Clearly, his mother's death is a tragedy that has affected Morrie's life since his eighth year, when he read the telegram announcing her death. That Morrie had to be the one to read and relay the tragic news speaks to the immense responsibility and independence he had to take on as a very young boy. This premature responsibil ity and independence have, undoubtedly, also affected Morrie's adult character, which makes it especially difficult for him to accept his sudden dependency on others, as he has relied only on himself since his childhood. Morrie's childhood feelings of res ponsibility go beyond what they should, not only in his responsibility for himself, but for others. Morrie blames himself for his brother's polio, and, in a sense, feels at fault for his mother's death, but is helpless to cure his brother or to bring his mother back to life. Morrie's feeling of helplessness is much like Mitch's sense that he has lost control upon the death of his favorite uncle, which he describes in the beginning of the book. However, the feelings of helplessness shared by the young Mitc h and the young Morrie act as the catalyst for different effects. Mitch reacts by joining the work force and striving for financial success, as where Morrie throws himself into his education, and is driven by a passion for knowledge which carries him into his adulthood, and, eventually, into the profession Mitch believes he has such a talent for.

Morrie's passion for education is instilled by his stepmother, Eva, who, unlike his father, is kind and tender towards Morrie and his brother. It is implied that Morrie's great need for physical affection in his adulthood is due to the absence of it durin g his childhood, as, following his mother's death, he was barely acknowledged by his cold-mannered father. Eva steps in and feeds this need during the late years of Morrie's youth, but it seems his need is never fully satisfied, and this is why he looks t o his friends and family for constant physical attention.