After getting his Ph.D., Morrie spends five years working at a mental hospital, observing patients and doing research.
One woman he watches comes out of her room every day and lies on the floor for hours. Every day Morrie tries to connect with her, until finally she gets off the floor and tells him she just wanted to be noticed.
He realizes as he watches more patients that they are all lonely and rejected. Interestingly, many of them come from rich and privileged backgrounds; it becomes crystal clear that money can't buy happiness.
To Morrie, all this craziness points to the fact that people just want to believe that they matter in the world.
Mitch often teases Morrie that he's living eternally in the 1960s. Why? Morrie started working at Brandeis University back then and seems to have carried the radical influence with him all his life.
For example, the university gave all the students A's during the Vietnam War so that they didn't have to be drafted.
For another example, Morrie once joined a student protest when somebody recognized him as he was walking by.
Needless to say, Morrie's attitude made him wildly popular as a teacher. Hundreds of students come back to visit him in his final days, all of them saying they've never had another teacher quite like him (16.22).
Mitch begins reading about different ideas about death. One North American tribe believes that souls exist as miniature forms of the creature they belong to; once the person dies, the form runs off and either lives in something else or goes back to the moon and waits to be sent to earth again.
Sometimes the moon is so busy with these souls that it doesn't come out, and then we get a moonless night.