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Rory Book Discussions > ACC - Ghost of Christmas Past

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message 1: by Sera (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:12PM) (new)

Sera I'm just finished reading the part of when the Ghost of Christmas Past comes to visit - soooo SPOILER ALERT

This chapter brought tears to my eyes, because it shows how Scrooge had a chance for a life filled with love, family and happiness instead of loneliness. I had no idea that a woman, Bella, was interested in him and that he was the one who failed to pursue the relationship. It was clear to me that Scrooge chose to live his life alone, which got me to thinking...

First, if one is going to choose a life of isolation, then it fits that that person would have to take on a persona of coldness and uncaring. I think that most people who act this way have been hurt before, and so it becomes easier not to take the risk of getting hurt than to put themselves out there. This chapter reveals that Scrooge was taunted as a boy and that the other boys aliented them, which likely led to his learning not to develop feelings for others. However, it was great to see how he began to show feeling of empathy toward others whom he had treated badly that day, because of what the ghost had shown him about his own past.

Second, I'm sad to think about how many people out there will be alone for Christmas. A friend of mine once told me many years ago, "there are many lonely people in this world", and if you stop to think about it, she is right, which is quite sad.

I realize that this post ended up being kind of a downer, and I apologize for that, because it wasn't my intent, and the book is actually having a wonderful effect on my psyche. However, I also realize how fortunate I really am to have loved ones.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this part of the book? I would love to hear them.


message 2: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:12PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Do you think that Scrooge did not pursue a relationship with Bella because he was already becoming cold and uncaring? Or do you think that he became cold and uncaring after the relationship ended in order to protect himself from more hurting?

I am so, so, so happy that you like this book. It's one of my favorites. :)


message 3: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:12PM) (new)

Meghan I believe Scrooge was still "good" when he was with Bella but afterwards, without her warmth to balance him, he completely went off the scale and that's why he became so cold and uncaring.

I agree Sera though. I teared up a bit with the scene with his sister and the current Scrooge thought briefly of her son, his nephew and how horribly he had treated him.

I'm just so enjoying this book. Sarah, I think it really helped that I took that Brit lit class. I can place this in history and so the story makes so much more sense and what Dickens' is trying to say about mankind and the city and where everything was heading is now actually interesting to me. I now renounce my previous viewpoint of Dickens. Although if I have to sit through one more version of "Oliver!" I might throw up.


message 4: by Robbie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:12PM) (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Sera, as I was reading your post, I was thinking of Snape of Harry Potter fame. Does anybody else see a parallel?


message 5: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:12PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Yay! Yay! Yay! I am sooooo happy that you like it, Meghan!


message 6: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:12PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Ooh, Robbie, good comparison! I totally do!


message 7: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Meghan Good comparison Robbie!


message 8: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Meghan Okay there was a line in this chapter that I need someone to explain it to me. I am too lazy to get up and get my book, but it ends with "...mere United State's security." (It's p. 42 if you have the P.J. Lynch version)

Is Dicken's making a crack at the US, or does "United States" mean something else?

Also, I think it's rather ironic considering today's environment of Homeland Security and all.


message 9: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Meghan Secondly, in my Brit Lit class and my Art History classes, it was this period (The Victorian Age) where all things Far East was very en vogue. Which totally explains the whole scene with Ali Baba. This was one scene that I just didn't get until now. It just seemed so random.

I find it funny that authors would through something from the Far East into their writing when most of them had never even been there. A lot of our impressions of the Middle East/Asia was due to these writings and that's why so many misconceptions and stereotypes had been made.


message 10: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Meghan Oh and I love the comment on Fezziwig about his "organ of benevolence." That just sounds so dirty. hehe


message 11: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) That's something that a lot of authors used to do, Meghan; write about a place they've never been without bothering to check their facts. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a scene that took place in the US and basically said that the area between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains was a desolate wasteland which was completely uninhabitable.


message 12: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Meghan Yes, I know. But it was HUGE in England during the Victorian period to write about the Far East. I never realized how much until you saw author after author listed and you saw how many famous works included some Asian/Middle Eastern references.

And the whole Ali Baba thing is just so random in this story. It was like "is that really necessary?" It's not like this was set in India, which might have been understandable considering it was a British colony. But in the middle of Britain there's an Arabian woodcutter. That just made me laugh.


message 13: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Meghan Also, people aren't quoting Doyle as the expert on America. But a lot of people used these British (and American) authors as experts on Asia and the Middle East.


message 14: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Hey all, remember we aren't supposed to start discussing this until Wednesday the 12th! Please try to wait so that those that were regulating by this schedule won't be discouraged and skip it. I know I want to be a part of the discussions as they are happening, not ages later.

Thanks gang!


message 15: by Jen Manning (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Jen Manning | 34 comments So, I read and re-read the line that says "This was a great relief, because 'Three days after sight of this First of Exchange pay to Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge or his order' and so forth, would have become a mere United States security if there were no days to count by.
Since he works in a countinghouse and is concerned about money this is my guess: He is talking about he thinks people would be running crazy in the streets if it was 12 noon and dark outside. He is still concerned/bewildered by his sleeping throughout the day and into another night. The part about if they had no days as in daylight to tell that day had passed, then the the words three days would not have as much meaning and would simply be a phrase with no weight behind it. People could pay or not pay based more on feeling because there was no daylight. It would make his accounting and the repayment of debts to him harder to collect. DISCLAIMER: This is only my interpretation I am sure the Lit majors could be more thorough-- I am simply a social worker.


message 16: by Jen Manning (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Jen Manning | 34 comments I am answering you Meghan because I thinks it helps to clear up a passage and move forward rather than have it at the back of your mind the rest of the book.
Please only flog me with a wet noodle for continuing a dicussion that has been decreed out of order! Have mercy dear group moderators! tehee ;)


message 17: by Michelle (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Michelle (literarilyspeaking1) Actually, Scrooge's line about the United States' security is in reference to bonds in the U.S. at the time.

The banks were still very unstable and shaky, and any bonds bought on the banks were considered a horrid investment. Banks in the U.K. were much more stable and considered a much better investment.

Hope this helps!


message 18: by Sera (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Sera I thought we had agreed that we could start discussing the book by chapters to share our thoughts as we read the book? I don't want to interfere with the flow of things so let me know if I misinterpreted some of the posts that addressed this topic.

I think that Scrooge had already turned his heart, which is why he didn't pursue his relationship with Bella. In the story, she says that his face had already changed to one of avarice so it appears that he had already replaced money with relationships.

Also, my book has these wonderful black and white illustrations. The one of the Ghost of Marley is especially good with the locks and all. Does anyone else have any illustrations in their book?


message 19: by Sera (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Sera Great parallel, Robbie! I hadn't thought about the Snape connection, but since Rowling is an English writer, might there have been a connection? The thing about Snape is the continued question of whether he is good or evil, which takes a long time to find out, but the connection between the childhoods of Scrooge and Snape is a very interesting one.


message 20: by Michelle (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Michelle (literarilyspeaking1) While I enjoy the Snape parallel, I don't think it can be taken particularly far.

Scrooge chooses a life of solitude and bitterness because he decides that his money is more important to him than Belle is. Note, chooses.

Snape, on the other hand, is a victim of circumstance in his loneliness (wow, I'm defending Snape...). Lily chooses James and not him, leaving Snape out in the cold to live a life of solitude. While it can be said that his choice to react to Lily's rejection with bitterness, I tend to view it more as "She's the only woman I will ever love, so no one else can compare and I will be doomed to live my life alone."


message 21: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Hey Sera, I was skimming because I haven't started the book yet, but saw the question you put out there. We decided that to give everyone a chance to be involved in the discussions as they are happening that we would begin ANY discussions for Holidays on Ice on the 7th and ANY discussions for A Christmas Carol on the 12th.

We did consider chapter discussions, or groups of chapters - especially for long books - and I think it is a great way to go but we still determined a start time. This is because the last couple of months some people have been discouraged to read the book selections when discussions started as soon as the book was nominated. If you feel like a lot of the interactions have already happened, it's not much fun anymore. So we thought, have at it in any way you'd like to discuss it... just wait until AFTER the date posted so that more people can/will be involved.

The "we" refers to the group as a whole. There are moderators to keep things on track, but we generally decide things here as a group - through discussion finding a general consensus.

Cheers!


message 22: by Sera (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Sera No problem; I will wait 'til 12/10.

Sorry all, I didn't realize that we had picked a start date.


message 23: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:15PM) (new)

Meghan And Sera, I think this was by chapter. I think we just skipped Marley's Ghost. (At least my version is only broken down by Marley's Ghost, the 3 ghosts, and the day after - so 5 chapters in total).

And thanks to Sera and Michelle for clearing up my question. I get it now--a financial security. Makes MUCH more sense now. One of those "d'oh!" moments.


message 24: by Sera (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:18PM) (new)

Sera Ah, ok, Meghan, we need to go by chapter. I'll get these rules yet :)

My husband and I watched the Christmas Carol with George C. Scott the the other night, and Marley's Ghost was freaky in the movie. The funny thing is that I mentioned that my book had illustrations, and the ghosts in the movie, all looked like the illustrations! We were laughing so hard, because the likeness was uncanny.


message 25: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
The chicken or the egg...

Which came first, the book illustrations or the movie?

Maybe they both just PERFECTLY align with the book's descriptions!

Anyway, it's funny!


message 26: by Meghan (new)

Meghan I was kind of amazed that the ghost in A Muppet Christmas Carol looks exactly like the P.J. Lynch illustration in my book. Was there a specific illustration used when this book came out? Now I want to go see your movie version, Sera, just to compare.


message 27: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Dec 16, 2007 12:14AM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Great parts: When Scrooge is watching Fezziwig, and he tells the spirit how as an employer, he had "the power to rend us happy or unhappy. To make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil" by his words or looks. Then the spirit asks him what's wrong, and he says "I should like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk just now." All of his bad behavior that we as readers have already witnessed is starting to get thrown back into his face by the spirits...and he is already wishing he could alter it.

And, this is my quote on my homepage now...this is my most favorite part of the book...when Belle tells him that he fears "the world too much. All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of it's sordid reproach." I think this is the justification for Scrooge's bad behavior...he thinks that if he can make money, he will be beyond the grasp of the world's heartaches (that he has already experienced as a child)...but his security comes at too high of a cost (healthy relationships).


message 28: by Sera (new)

Sera I like the thought Alison that Belle had - money becomes a protective shell to Scrooge that insulates him from harm - but little does he know how much he continues to harm himself and many others.

There are people who like to hoarde things - not just money, but stuff in general. Have you ever seen them on the talk shows where they can't even walk in their homes, because they just have stacks and stacks of stuff. Well, the thought is that people collect all of this stuff to build a protective barrier around themselves. For example, if there is no room to sit, then they can't have visitors. Thus, their stuff becomes the same type of protective shell that Scrooge attempted to create with his money.


message 29: by Meghan (new)

Meghan I agree. It's amazing how timeless that sentiment is--ambitiousness superceding family, love, and happiness. How many movies and books and tv shows have people from poor or difficult childhoods striving for a better life and sacrificing their families and friends to get it because they think it will make life easier. It's like that (for most people terrible) movie, A Devil's Advocate. Kind of sad to really think about though. Dickens wrote this book a couple hundred years ago. A Devil's Advocate was made in the 90s. And yet they both deal with the same issue. Some things never change. We really do repeat ourselves which really makes the question, does history teach us anything poignant considering which ghost this is.


message 30: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments When I read the part about Scrooge's observations of Fezziwig and how he used his power in a way that affected others positively, I became even more disappointed in the decisions Scrooge made during his life. He had a great example and mentor, yet he chose a very different path. Was this path of selfishness ever modeled for him? Or, did he simply create his own path by trying to 'undo' his previous pain.

It was interesting how Scrooge had positive emotion about initially seeing the place and people of his childhood, even though he had experienced such misery.

Alison, I just need to say that I always love reading your posts! Reading all your thoughts about A Clockwork Orange in the Literature and Film group is what prompted me to become "friends."


message 31: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Robbie, I agree with everything you just said (including how supercool Alison is)!


message 32: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
I just finished this chapter, but Alison did the best quote, I think. I just LOVE this book! I wish I had an hour to sit and read - I'd devour it! I'll write more when I finally finish it.


message 33: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments ok this may be a stupid question...but the part about Ali Baba, it's supposed to indicate his younger self reading Arabian Nights, and the man we see is a manifestation of young Scrooge's mind as he reads, right? and i have no idea about the parrot part. please help!

here's the scene i'm referring to:

The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to his younger self, intent upon his reading. Suddenly a man in foreign garments: wonderfully real and distinct to look at: stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood.

"Why, it's Ali Baba!" Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. "It's dear old honest Ali Baba! Yes, yes, I know. One Christmas-time when yonder solitary child was left here all alone, he did come, for the first time, just like that. Poor boy! And Valentine," said Scrooge, "and his wild brother, Orson; there they go! And what's his name, who was put down in his drawers, asleep, at the gate of Damascus; don't you see him? And the Sultan's Groom turned upside down by the Genii: there he is upon his head! Serve him right! I'm glad of it. What business had he to be married to the Princess?"

"There's the Parrot!" cried Scrooge. "Green body and yellow tail, with a thing like a lettuce growing out of the top of his head; there he is! Poor Robin Crusoe he called him, when he came home again after sailing round the island. 'Poor Robin Crusoe, where have you been, Robin Crusoe?' The man thought he was dreaming, but he wasn't. It was the Parrot, you know. There goes Friday, running for his life to the little creek! Halloa! Hoop! Halloo!"




also, so glad someone asked about the United States thing.



message 34: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments The whole parrot paragraph is when he's reading Robinson Crusoe, I believe. Didn't he have a parrot and a ?servant? named Friday?


message 35: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments could be - i haven't read Robinson Crusoe (obviously), but that seems like it would make sense. Thanks!


message 36: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Honestly, I don't think I've read it either, but I've played a lot of Trivial Pursuit in my day!


message 37: by Meghan (new)

Meghan From Wikipedia:

He (Robinson Crusoe) discovers native cannibals occasionally visit the island to kill and eat prisoners. At first he plans to kill the savages for their abomination, but then he realizes that he has no right to do so as the cannibals have not attacked him and do not knowingly commit a crime. He dreams of capturing one or two servants by freeing some prisoners, and indeed, when a prisoner manages to escape, Crusoe helps him, naming his new companion "Friday" after the day of the week he appeared, and teaches him English and converts him to Christianity.


message 38: by Meghan (last edited Dec 19, 2007 06:19PM) (new)

Meghan I didn't get that this was his imagination at work. I thought this was a real guy. And Dickens was just making a social comment on what was popular reading of the day.


message 39: by Arctic (last edited Dec 20, 2007 02:46AM) (new)

Arctic | 571 comments This part just really confused me and that was the best sense I could make of it, not that that's necessarily how it is. Seems strange to me that he leaps between the two books though.

I think I just love the idea that Dickens might make Scrooge's memory of his books as vivid as his real memories. I know that when I was a child, some of my books were like that for me.

thanks for the wikipedia info by the way. it explains a lot.

I wonder if the themes of the two books alluded to might have any underlying relevance to the story at hand. I suppose I'd have to read them to find out. I have trouble imagining that they were just random insertions, or even cultural commentary.


message 40: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Maybe he was illustrating that the characters in his books were Scrooge's only companions or "friends."


message 41: by Sera (new)

Sera Robbie, that was my interpretation. That thought really came through in the movie. Scrooge says something to the effect that he was never alone, because he had his books to keep him company.

We also get insight into Scrooge's sister in this chapter. The reader can tell that she really loves her brother, and Scrooge her, so he wasn't completely alone. However, his father did not seem very interested in having Scrooge live at home, which kept him away from his sister. After his sister dies, Scrooge's only link to her is through her son. The nephew definitely has his mother's spirit, and I love his determination in trying to get Scrooge to spend Christmas with the family each year.


message 42: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Maybe Scrooge found the memories of his sister that his nephew brought out in him too painful. The ghosts taught him that he could still enjoy the loving character of his sister through his nephew.


message 43: by Sera (new)

Sera True, or maybe it was a defense mechanism - he lost the only person that he was close to at young age - maybe he was protecting himself from further hurt?


message 44: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Dec 20, 2007 08:51AM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Thanks, Robbie & Sarah--I'm glad we're friends, too.

Meghan is so right about the timelessness of that sentiment. People try to protect themselves from the world by working harder and longer...as if money provides a shell. But the love for money is so addictive. There's never a point of satisfaction. People wake up and realize all they have for their hard work is a shell. No meaningful relationships, no evolution of their character, no good feelings from helping other people, no one to come to their funeral! (And I'm not talking about people who work hard at their careers in general but more the Scrooges of the world who COULD do more for others but just don't see the importance of it).

I saw No Country for Old Men last night, and it's funny that I could tie it to Dickens, but one theme running throughout was, you can't change what's coming. Two totally different world views represented with the Dickens certainly being more optimistic...but in relation to this story, you could say that you can do something with the time you have left.


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