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A Christmas Carol
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Archived Group Reads 2018 > A Christmas Carol: Week 2 - Staves 2 & 3

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message 1: by Cindy, Moderator (new) - added it

Cindy Newton | 295 comments Mod
So sorry for the delay this week! I'm crushed beneath piles of grading and facing hard deadlines. I promise to add this week's material tomorrow--I'm too tired tonight to do it justice. Again, my apologies!!


Brittany (Lady Red) (ladyred19) | 152 comments I’m an MA student and I feel your pain! No worries


message 3: by Cindy, Moderator (new) - added it

Cindy Newton | 295 comments Mod
Sorry for the late start! Week Two brings Scrooge more paranormal company as the ghosts Marley predicted visit him. The first is the Ghost of Christmas Past, an old/young man who takes Scrooge back into his past. He sees himself as a child, alone and abandoned on Christmas in a derelict school, his only friends the characters in his books. These provide comfort to him in his loneliness. Then, a little older, we see his sister Fan, the mother of Fred. She's loving, warm, charming--the antithesis of everything Scrooge is now.

He also sees himself as a young apprentice in Mr. Fezziwig's establishment, his first step on his career path. His former employer, a successful businessman, has quite a different philosophy regarding the treatment of employees than Scrooge's own. We then see the dissolution of Scrooge's engagement, apparently one of long standing. Unable to compete with his growing greed, she walks away. The Ghost then favors Scrooge with a peek into Belle's life after she leaves him--a happily married woman with a brood of lively children. The Ghost's time with Scrooge ends as he watches his former fiancee discussing him pityingly with her husband.

Which of these glimpses into the past do you think might have had the most effect on Scrooge? What do you think the overall effect of this foray into history might have had on him?

The next nocturnal visitor is the Ghost of Christmas Present, a large, jolly, and very vivid character. This is my personal favorite of the ghosts--he's sassy! The Ghost escorts him to various households making merry on Christmas Day. He sees the lively family of Bob Cratchit, bravely celebrating with the meager viands their limited means will allow. The only blight on the day is the mention of Scrooge's name. Scrooge seems particularly affected by the sight of the Cratchit's youngest child, a crippled little boy with a saintly demeanor, especially when the Ghost informs Scrooge that he does not have long to live. This is my favorite part, where the Ghost uses Scrooge's own words against him. He does this several times, always with stunning effect.

Scrooge and the Ghost go on to visit many more settings, from isolated lighthouse keepers to sailors and finally end up at Fred's house. There, his spurned nephew is enjoying his holiday with the penniless bride that Scrooge so disdained, along with a group of friends. Once again, Scrooge hears his name discussed with a mixture of pity and contempt. After these pleasant festivities, the Ghost introduces Scrooge to the children who dwell underneath his robes, Ignorance and Want. After leveling Scrooge verbally one final time, the Ghost leaves him to watch the approach of the third and final Ghost with trepidation.

So what are your thoughts on this section? Which parts do you think might have had the most impact on Scrooge? What social injustices do you see Dickens addressing? After having learned some information about Scrooge's background, what do you think might have led to his extreme behavior? Do you feel it is justified by his upbringing? Why do you think he has such antipathy for his nephew when he loved the boy's mother so much? Please share your thoughts and any questions you may have!


Nina Clare | 135 comments I liked the 'jolly Giant' Ghost of Christmas Present too.
I had to look up what the delightfully named: 'Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy' were - apples!

The scene at the Cratchits had lovely period details describing a working class Victorian Christmas dinner: people 'carrying their dinner to the baker's shops' presumably because the poorer classes didn't have cooking facilities at home other than an open fire or small stove.
Roast goose with sage and onion stuffing, mashed potatoes and apple sauce for dinner (no veggies, except onions), and a 'cannon-ball' of a pudding cooked outside in the washing copper. Roast chestnuts on the fire and a singsong for entertainment. It's so evocative of the period, like being given a glimpse into the past.


Nina Clare | 135 comments I read a lovely book earlier this year called 'Mr Dickens and his Carol'. It's a fictional story about how Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol. The ebook is currently only $0.99 / £0.99 on Amazon. It's a perfect Christmas read. If you liked the film 'The Man Who Made Christmas' then you'll love this book, it's equally charming and very similar in style.

Mr. Dickens and His Carol
Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva


message 6: by Kerstin, Moderator (last edited Dec 16, 2018 04:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kerstin | 576 comments Mod
Nina wrote: "I liked the 'jolly Giant' Ghost of Christmas Present too.
I had to look up what the delightfully named: 'Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy' were - apples!

The scene at the Cratchits had lovely p..."


I enjoyed the scene at the Cratchits too. It is clear they don't have much, but the feast they are having is truly special for everyone. They seem to be a family in the best sense. They care for one another and there is a deep sense of belonging. Growing up as a Cratchit wouldn't be all that bad, for you would have a loving childhood in every way that counts.


message 7: by Cindy, Moderator (new) - added it

Cindy Newton | 295 comments Mod
Kerstin wrote: "Growing up as a Cratchit wouldn't be all that bad, for you would have a loving childhood in every way that counts. ..."

Yes, the Cratchits do seem to have found a happiness in their poverty that all his money hasn't brought Scrooge. Unfortunately, not all of those who live in poverty have this upbeat, "glass-half-full" outlook. Dickens also portrays the other side of poverty in the scene with the fence. The women who had been hired to nurse Scrooge and ultimately looted his house after his death are also struggling to survive and have a much more venal outlook on life.


Laurene | 158 comments Loved the ghost of the past! I felt so sorry for Scrooge as a young boy. As a young man, he felt the only way to have anything was to make money which would give him the life he so wanted. But he became obsessed with making more and more money.

The victorian Christmas at the Cratchets was one of the best portrayals of how a family truly loves each other and celebrates together.


message 9: by Renee, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Renee M | 1861 comments Mod
It’s nice to be reminded of the reasons these characters have become such cultural icons.


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