Tuesdays with Morrie Themes, Symbols, and Motifs

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for Tuesdays with Morrie

Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in Tuesdays with Morrie


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Activity Overview

Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify themes and symbols from the memoir, and support their choices with details from the text.

Tuesdays with Morrie Themes to Look For and Discuss

Living a Meaningful Life

When Mitch graduated from college, he believed he was a man with ambition and convictions, and he imagined himself following these. However, he got wrapped up in work and making more money, which hasn’t left him feeling fulfilled. Morrie, however, has figured out the things that create a meaningful life, such as rejecting the culture of money, focusing on family and love, and living every day as if it is his last. By doing this, he learns how to live once he learns how to die.

The Importance of Forgiveness

Mitch feels intense guilt over the life he has led. Morrie, however, knows that learning to forgive oneself for our past decisions is just as important as forgiving others for what they have done to us. There are two reasons why forgiveness is important, according to Morrie: the first is that regrets don’t help people when they’re at the end. The second is that not everyone is lucky enough to get the time that Morrie has in order to forgive. Unresolved guilt is a powerful distraction from living a meaningful life.

Overcoming Fear

Morrie and Mitch talk about two kinds of fear: the fear of dying, which Morrie works through with his “detachment” method, and the fear of aging. Not only does our culture attempt to ignore aging in advertising, but many people look back on their youth in their older ages with desire to be that age again. Morrie embraces aging. He finds that he has learned and grown more from aging, and even despite his illness, he is enjoying it. He tells Mitch, “If you’re always battling getting older, you’re always going to be unhappy, because it will happen anyhow.”

Acknowledging Emotions

Morrie works through his fear and overwhelming emotions by “detaching”; rather, he acknowledges what they are, feels them completely, and then lets them go. By not burying his feelings below, he can keep himself from becoming overwhelmed by emotions such as fear, loneliness, and grief. Mitch finds this an important lesson personally because he tries to bury his own emotions and holds back from others, which has caused a wedge between himself, his wife, and even his brother.

Tuesdays with Morrie Motifs & Symbols to Look For and Discuss

The Hibiscus Plant

The hibiscus plant in Morrie’s study is something that Mitch seems to notice as he visits with Morrie. It’s small, but durable, and while Morrie withers, the plant holds on. Morrie uses the plant as a chance to demonstrate that people are connected with nature, and as with all things in nature, people and plants both die. The thing that separates humans from the plants, however, that humans have a chance to be remembered because of the love we create and share.


Every Tuesday, Mitch brings food from the local supermarket with him when he visits Morrie. While Morrie soon can no longer eat most solid foods, his eyes light up at the sight of the bags Mitch brings anyways. For the two men, it reminds them of their lunches they used to have back when Mitch was a student, and Mitch enjoys the fact that Morrie is not particularly careful while he eats.

School and Professors

Morrie’s story is told to Mitch as sort of a “final thesis”. Mitch Albom structures the memoir as a final class, with each Tuesday meeting covering a different topic. Morrie himself wants to be remembered as a “Teacher to the Last”, and he values his time with Mitch as an opportunity to share his lessons from his “experiment” with dying.

The O. J. Simpson Trial

As Mitch is visiting Morrie in his final months, it is right in the middle of the O. J. Simpson murder trial which captured the nation’s attention for almost an entire year. Mitch often sees coverage of the trial during his travels, and the verdict even comes during a visit to Morrie. However, Mitch uses the trial to juxtapose the fact that the entire country is concerned with a murder trial, but no one is really focusing on living for what matters, like Morrie.

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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in Tuesdays with Morrie. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from Tuesdays with Morrie you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for examples that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.

Template: Theme


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