A Very Dickens Christmas Read-Along discussion

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The Christmas Stories > The Haunted Man and the Ghosts Bargain

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message 1: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (marathonsun) | 11 comments I'm finding this a more difficult read than some of the others. Does anyone know what the significance of the Tettery's baby girl, Sally, being referred to as Moloch is?


message 2: by Katie (new)

Katie I found this a more challenging read than last week, but was able to make it through, and ultimately enjoyed it overall.

It was confusing at times, as some of the characters weren't fleshed out very well - and also the same person being called several different names throughout (i.e. Mr Redclaw, the chemist, the haunted man = all the same person).

However, there were other scenes I could see perfectly in my mind from the description, such as Johnny's character dragging around his chubby, drooling, toddler sister.

I have more thoughts, but will think on them a bit, and am interested in what others have to say!


The Rudie Librarian (Brian) (therudielibrarian) This one was definitely not my favorite. It took a while to get into it and then there were long portions that I felt were muddled and unclear.


message 4: by Jana (new)

Jana (penguininabluebox) I agree mostly - I liked it, but it was harder to get into and more difficult to read. The descriptions were still really good and the overall story was, too. I didn't like it as much as I liked last week's story, though.


The Rudie Librarian (Brian) (therudielibrarian) Okay, I just actually finished it and I might have jumped to a conclusion. Although it still wasn't my favorite, I think that the overall idea - the beauty and necessity of us retaining our troubles and sorrows as a lens through which we can see the beauty of the world around us - is a wonderful one.


message 6: by Terri (new)

Terri (terrib) Loved the message that we need to remember our sorrows in order to understand our joys - without our sorrow we have no measure for our joy. The descriptive images were, again, pretty fantastic - I could feel the cold and see the "grayness." I must agree with others that this one was a bit tougher to read.

Did anyone else appreciate the identity of the ghost? ;)


Kailey (Luminous Libro) (luminouslibro) Sherri wrote: "I'm finding this a more difficult read than some of the others. Does anyone know what the significance of the Tettery's baby girl, Sally, being referred to as Moloch is?"

Moloch (or Molek) was an ancient god worshiped by pagans around the time that Moses was alive. (Leviticus 18) This "god" required terrible sacrifices and was never satisfied apparently. The term is used in Milton's Paradise Lost to refer to anyone who demands a big sacrifice from someone. The ironic thing is that Moloch is most well-known for demanding child-sacrifices. When you hear about babies being thrown into the flames, that was the ancient Moloch-worshipers.
I'd say that's rather in bad taste, Mr. Dickens, to refer to a baby as a Moloch! But it's just a way of saying that the baby requires a lot of attention and sacrifice from poor Johnny.


Kailey (Luminous Libro) (luminouslibro) This short Christmas story is reminiscent of A Christmas Carol, in that a ghost appears and propels the main character into drastic changes with plenty of moral lessons along the way.
Dickens is extremely long-winded in this one, and at his finest with the long descriptions of everything. (Confession: I skimmed half of the descriptions.)

I loved the basic premise of the story- the sorrow and troubles in our lives teach us valuable lessons.
I laughed so hard at the Tetterby family, especially poor Johnny getting crushed every time he sits down with the baby in his lap! Haha!
But five minutes later, I was crying at the old man praying by his son's sickbed, begging God to forgive him. So sweet!

I was really touched by the wild boy, since you can be sure that Dickens must have seen homeless children just like that on the streets. All his books have some sort of street-child who is taken in and helped by kind people.

Dickens did an amazing job of making it clear through their dialogue exactly when people lost or regained their memories.

I loved that each character has their own funny mannerisms of speech: The old man constantly reminding everyone that he is eighty-seven, and William saying the same things over and over. So adorable! Dickens always has such brilliant characters.


message 9: by Mpauli (last edited Nov 29, 2014 11:58AM) (new)

Mpauli I just finished the story and have to admit that I really, really disliked it.

From my point of view it is a preachy manifest of conservative values. Every character who is a single or bachelor is depicted as having a negative influence on their surroundings and the chemist and the student are depicted in a constant need of rescue, cause -god forbid- they have no wife or family.

Thus their trouble is far greater than the discourse the Tatterbys have, who, after a short argument, are all over each other with love again.
And of course, the student's life is turned around by having a potential wife waiting for him.

The female role is reduced to being a caretaker. Their happiness just seems to come from caring for others.
Molly, who has the huge trauma of having lost her baby, is so eager to be loved by anyone in the end that "repression" is painted in large letters over her arc.

In contrast to others, I'm also not a huge fan of the "we need misery in our lives to appreciate the good" morale. I personally think that this might be a conservative myth as well, which is used to humble the majority of the people who live in misery and uphold the status quo of the ruling elites.

For my taste, this story was way to preachy to be enjoyable.


message 10: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (marathonsun) | 11 comments Kailey wrote: This "god" required terrible sacrifices and was never satisfied apparently.
Thanks Kailey. That makes perfect sense!


message 11: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (marathonsun) | 11 comments I have now read this book through twice. Enjoyed it much more the second time through! I feel like since I knew the overall story I could spend more time on Dicken's detailed (sometimes run on :) ) descriptions. Really some nice thoughts there!


message 12: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly | 4 comments I am behind on this one. I started listening to the Librovox public domain audiobook of it during a recent road trip, but didn't get too far into it yet. The narrator of the audiobook did an excellent job with the different voices, but I think I was a bit confused with all of the different characters and the different names that each character has. I will try to get back to it and read the rest of it in the next few days.


message 13: by Sophie (new)

Sophie I have decided to give up on this one. I will hopefully pick it up some other time but I could not get into it. Onwards and upwards.


message 14: by Avery (new)

Avery (ThePagemaster) (averythepagemaster) | 1 comments I just read the first chapter last night and I found it kinda dull and too descriptive, and little dialogue. But, I still wanna continue because I'm not a big fan of abandoning a story, unless if I really have to.


message 15: by Titta (new)

Titta (throughbookshelves) | 4 comments I read this last weekend and like others have also said, it was really hard to read. I didn't like the beginning at all and even though it got better around the end, it still wasn't my favorite. Hoping that this weeks short story will be better.


Tanya (aka ListObsessedReader) (listobsessed) | 5 comments Phew! I have gotten woefully behind on this readalong, and aside from having lots of other things to read, the main reason for this is getting bogged down in this one and having no real compulsion to pick it up again. Have FINALLY slogged my way through the rest of this today and am now looking forward to moving on to the other stories! I'm glad to see, now having read through the discussion, that I wasn't the only one who struggled with this story!


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