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The Style of Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

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Have you ever thought of death as an opportunity to live? Tuesdays With Morrie is a unique piece of work that obtains a deep explanation on the meaning of life. In Mitch Albom’s nonfiction novel Tuesdays with Morrie, Morrie Schwartz was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Morrie is diagnosed Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS. ALS is a disease that melts your body from well in Morrie’s case, the legs up. As the disease progresses it kills more of Morrie’s body as the days go on, but the lessons he learns continually seems to grow. Both the book and the movie will leave you with a completely different outlook on life and death.

Mitchell David ‘Mitch’ Albom (born May 23, 1958) among many other titles is best known for being a best selling author. 35 million copies of his books have been sold worldwide which have also achieved a national recognition for sports writing in the earlier part of his career. He is best known for the inspirational stories and themes that are displayed in his books, plays and films.

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Another distinctive feature in Mitch Albom’s writing style, is revealed by an analysis of Tuesdays with Morrie. Albom uses a generous amount of figurative languages, metaphors and similes. Mitch Albom has a very particular language style that makes his novels unique. Albom mostly writes his novels in a past-to-present-back to -past type of author. In this novel, and in the other books of Albom’s that I’ve read, for example the Five People You Meet in Heaven he usually starts the stories from the past, then skips right to the present, then back to the past and so-on.

In between all of Albom’s work, ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ can be one of the most relevant stories that uses his unique language style. The language is simple and natural, and has the effect of directness, clarity and freshness. This is because Albom always manages to choose words that are more concrete, specific, and more commonly found as casual and conversational. The short sentences he uses are loaded with the tension, that he notices in throughout life. In the circumstance that he does not use a simple and short sentence, he connects the different parts of the sentence in a straightforward way. Example is below:

“I was in demand. I stopped renting. I started buying. I bought a house on a hill. I bought cars.” In Morrie’s task of portraying actual people, Mitch Albom uses his dialogue as a very efficient device.

“Have you ever seen my program?” Morrie shrugged. “Twice, I think.” “Twice? That’s all?” “Don’t feel bad. I’ve only seen ‘Oprah’ once.” “Well, the two times you saw my show, what did you think?”

In the examples I gave above we notice that these additions as “he said” have very often been expunged and the words are extremely common which makes his speeches “come to the reader” as if he were listening. Mitch Albom has caught the closeness of dialogue pretty accurately and has made the economical speech connotative. But it is good to note that Albom’s style seems so natural as it is

The novel is written as a simple, easy to read style, there are no literary illusions that take the reader away from the reality. Throughout this book are real life lessons, lessons that will make one a better person, lessons that would help us throughout real life and how to appreciate the time we have with the people we love. People now a days take everything and anything for granted and we need to learn to live every day to the fullest. This book will help to open one’s eyes about life. The tone of this novel is extremely intimate, and the format contributes himself and also to the readers involvement. Mitch and Morrie reveal themselves in simple dialogue and the reader quickly gets to know them as friends.

Mitch Albom’s Tuesday’s with Morrie is a true story told mainly in a first-person narrative by Albom. Mitch Albom is the author and two of the main characters throughout the story. Albom composed the plot so that it is actually straightforward and has very little confusion and also made sure that he didn’t use a lot of complicated historical references. He tends to include flashbacks from his college years from when he was a student of Morrie’s. He does this to give enough background on one of his slightly naïve and less materialistic self, so the readers can have a clear conception of the person he has become in the following sixteen years. He also does this to emphasize Morrie’s loving and compassionate values that he has always tried to express through his teachings.

Some of the many techniques that are used by Mitch Albom are flashbacks, narrative structure, repetition, symbolism, and foreshadowing are only some of the techniques used by Mitch Albom to show the main themes in the novel which are love and death, which also leads the story into acceptance through integrity and separation. Repetition is a very important technique that is used to help characterize the characters of Morrie and Mitch. Mitch refers to Morrie as “Coach” because he views him as a “teacher of life”. Coach is used repeatedly throughout the text that helps to illustrate the impact that Morrie has on Mitch’s life and what he learns from him through the remainder of his life.

“Find someone to share your heart, give to your community, be at peace with yourself, try to be as human as you can be.” (p. 34)

“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you must be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.” (p.42)

“…the big things—how we think, what we value — those you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone — or any society — determine those for you.” (p.155)

Some of Morrie’s very important lessons to Mitch is to make sure that the idea of one’s own culture is helpful and essential to the happiness and development of a person. However, it comes off as if Morrie is distracted and has no idea as to how he can create a culture of his very own. He becomes so accustomed to falling in the trap of our own current values and social norms that Morrie actually comes off as empty and useless. How, exactly, is someone supposed to create their own? Mitch understands later in the story how Morrie created his own culture and also that he learned to keep friends and family,, dancing, and books, and after he comes back from his trip to London, he realizes that he needs to create his very own culture or else he will wither away in to a life that has made him bitter and greedy.

Mitch’s slow conversion of his character goes from a man who is driven by money to a man who is driven by love. It is clear that when he decides not to buy a cell phone on his second trip to visit Morrie that this is the first step towards creating his own loving, accepting, and forgiving culture. Morrie’s self-created culture enables him to feel gratitude for his slow painful death, which, superficially, seems odd and outrageous.

Ultimately Tuesdays with Morrie portrays the following characteristics: In terms of its Linguistic and Stylistic Categories, Mitch Albom’s word choice was not overly complicated, and it is a bit low on linguistic difficulty. He rarely uses advanced vocabulary and the writing was simple. In terms of the Grammatical Category, more than half of the sentences used are statement and question. Meanwhile, there were also complex sentences and parentheses that produces doubt and creates confusion to the readers.

The figurative languages observe in the novel are simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, paradox, irony, symbolism, rhetorical question and of course, a lot of aphorisms. When it comes to the Language Style, Mitch Albom is a past-present-past type of author. He often uses short sentences that are powerfully loaded with thoughts. In terms of Forming his language style, Mitch Albom has formed a writing style that relates so much to his own experiences. The Influence of the Language style is that it is incredibly moving and emotional. This is philosophical in nature, and it teaches how to embrace life.

The style of ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ the tone is intensely personal, Albom wrote the plot very straightforward with little ambiguity. Narrative structure, foreshadowing and repetition, and flashbacks are only some of the techniques Albom uses to present the main theme of the text. The chapters are not numbered; they all have titles. Also, most of the chapters have an aside at the end.

Who cares? This is what we call style. A style that makes a novel that has sold over 14 million copies and has been translated into 41 languages. A style that makes a great book and makes it a style of his own.

Work cited

  • Albom, M. (1997). Tuesdays with Morrie: an old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lesson” ‎Doubleday Blindpig Books UT, U.S.A.
  • Fish SE (1970). ‘Literature in the reader: Affective Stylistics’. New Literary History. John Hopkins University Press, 2(1): 123-162.
  • Leech, G. and Short, M. (2001). Style in Fiction: A Linguistic Introduction to English Fictional Prose Foreign Language Beijing: Teaching and Research Press.
    Mitch Albom Bio | Mitchalbom.com.’ Welcome to Mitch Albom. 2008.
  • Halliday, Michael. (1971). Linguistic Function and Literary Style: An Inquiry into the Language of William Golding’s The Inheritors, in S. Chatman, ed. Literary Style: A Symposium. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Pres
  • SparkNotes Editors. (n.d.). SparkNotes on Tuesdays with Morrie. Retrieved September 27, 2015, from http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/morrie/

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