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Rory Book Discussions > ACC - Ghost of Christmas Future

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message 1: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod

message 2: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments oh man! no comments on the ghost of christmas future?? To me this is what the whole book pivots on - how much control people have over their destinies and whether the future can be changed or not.

The classic line I think of when I think of A Christmas Carol is this: "Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of the things that May be only?"

And about the ghost, why does he never speak? I've often wondered about this and would love to hear others thoughts.

message 3: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Because it's creepier for him to be silent?

I love the way, in all of the scenes the spirit shows him, they are talking about a guy who's just died and Scrooge is shocked to discover it's him. I love the build up. I think Dickens wrote that brilliantly. It makes me wonder what people will say about me when I'm gone.

message 4: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments In some books, like "7 Habits of Highly
Effective People," they suggest that you try to think of what people might say at your funeral. Then try to think of what you'd *like* them to say, and live your life so that will happen.

I thought it was sort of interesting that it was what people said about him when he was dead that bothered him most. Or that people stealing his stuff after he was dead bothered him at all. I think the way my actions affected other people, seen more in ghost of present, would bother me more.

message 5: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Maybe the Spirit didn't talk so that he couldn't answer Scrooge's questions. Scrooge had to figure it all out for himself--a more active role in his change.

message 6: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments I really like that thought, Alison. It fits very nicely.

I think this spirit is definitely the most unsettling -- as Scrooge slowly puts it together and draws his conclusions the suspense builds.

message 7: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
I think he didn't talk because the future is yet to be. Does that makes sense? You cannot speak of what has not yet happened as if it has... at least not with any real authority. Of course for Dickens it forwards the story rightly and betters the suspense, but I think the reasoning is in the very quote that Arctic brought up. But that's just me.

But really great quote.

I'm going to finally finish the book tonight, so then will comment more fully. I just like to see the whole perspective first... I have loads underlined, though! Just love it! (I already changed my rating from two stars to five!)

message 8: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Well, the future has yet to be. So if he spoke, he would have unwittingly changed Scrooge. If he said "no" then Scrooge would know he could change things and would his transformation in the morning be as great? If he said "yes" then would Scrooge have even tried to change? And what would be the point of him saying "i don't know" or "I can't tell you".

I think it's brilliant of Dickens to keep him silent. He had an opportunity to really pontificate here but by keeping him silent I think he actually said more.

message 9: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments thought provoking comments all around :). great group as always.

I agree it was a stroke of genius to keep the ghost of christmas future silent. I also think in some ways he may have just been dodging a bullet though.

what of destiny and fate? do these even exist? do we truly write our own futures, as Scrooge seemingly does, or is it all just an illusion?

message 10: by Sera (new)

Sera Good question, Heather. If you haven't read The Alchemist, you should check it out, because it addresses the issue of personal destiny and what we each can do to fulfill that destiny.

My thought is that we all have a path in life and that each decision that we make has a rippling effect on where we go in life and the choices that we will have as we go through it. Meghan talked about this at length in one of her earlier posts regarding The Time Travelers Wife, and I agree with her, because I believe that everything that we do is connected to our future.

However, I also believe that our decisions can get us off of our path if we don't pay attention to God's signals (or whatever higher power in which we might believe), which will impede us from discovering true happiness. I always tell people that God gives us clues as to which way to go on our path through life, but sometimes we don't see it, so he has to knock us in head with a bigger signal so that we do.

It's funny, because that's what happened to Scrooge. The signals of happiness were there - his nephew asking him to spend Christmas with him and Crachit's love of his family and disabled son, even though he was not a financially wealthy man, but Scrooge failed to recognize these signals. So God really gave him a jolt by sending him Marley and the other four ghosts.

message 11: by Erin (new)

Erin | 47 comments I enjoy the thoughfulness in Dickens' descriptions of the Ghosts, in particular of the Future. For example, the past is "ancient history" so to speak, but we were all chldren in the past, hence the Ghost is an old man/child.

Death is in everyone's future, so the Ghost of Christmas yet to Come resembles the Grim Reaper. The Ghost of Christmas Present is surrounded by food (a necessity for the present and is very large and consuming.

I also like that the Ghost of Christmas Future doesn't speak...we are all uncertain of the future. Genius!

message 12: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Wow, Erin! This is why I love having English majors and English teachers in the same bookclubs as me! I'm glad you're with us--thanks for helping me to enjoy this book even more!

message 13: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Maybe this should be posted in the last chapter's thread, but did anyone else think that Scrooge was going to die soon if he didn't change his ways? Like this was the last chance to get off this train or else?

I also liked what you wrote Sera about the jolt. Dickens made it pretty obvious the signs were all around him already but his head was so far up his bean counter that he couldn't see it. So he chose a method that was more, um, direct.

I find your question provoking Heather. But I don't think it was a cop out. I think because there are no answers about the future (until it becomes the present and then the past), we project our own thoughts about it. By keeping the ghost silent, we the readers are allowed to also have the future untouched. Will Scrooge see the light of day? What will be the outcome? We don't know until the next chapter. We're left in agonizing anticipation of what will be (a happy or sad ending?).

I find it a little difficult to analyze this book on the merits of its writing because I am so heavily influenced by the many movies/plays I have seen of it. I keep picturing various actors and scenes rather than trying to imagine what it could be. This is why I always try to read the book before the movie! Alas, this one is a little hard to get around.

message 14: by Beth (new)

Beth | 173 comments In the stage play, the Ghost of Christmas Future is one of my favorite parts, because it's very spookily lit, and the Ghost just stays silent and points at future scenes.

message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) When we did Fiddler on the Roof we had Fruma Sarah on painter's stilts. It made her about eight or nine feet tall. That'd be a great way to do this ghost.

message 16: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments Sera - thanks for mentioning the TTTW threads, some really fascinating and pertinent discussion in those.

I have read The Alchemist and coincidentally I was just saying in another thread elsewhere on this forum, it didn't move me as much as it has others. I'm not a big proponent of free will in general though.

Erin - great insight on Dickens choices for his ghosts. thanks for posting that.

Meghan - regarding your questions about whether it seemed like scrooge was in imminent danger, I think it did. the graveyard scene was definitely implying that if nothing else. I've always thought Scrooge was a little dense though to not realize until then that the spirit was showing him his future and not some one else's.

here's my next question though: what if it was all just a very long very involved bad dream? and the only real thing we see is him waking up on Christmas morning? he was in no real danger of imminent death, he only thinks he was. (and thinking is half the problem!)

message 17: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Erin, I really appreciated what you had to say about Dickens' depictions of the Ghosts and how they relate to their time frames. I was thinking along those lines, particularly with the later two... but you expressed it very well.

As to the future... if you believe your future was set in stone, AND you knew exactly what it would be, would you really bother with it? Life would be so dull, so awful. This brings to mind the discussion we had in a TTTW thread about whether we would want to know how and when we were to die.

message 18: by Sera (last edited Dec 21, 2007 06:51AM) (new)

Sera Heather, it could have been a dream, but even if it was, I don't think that this affects the outcome of the story, which is really the beauty of it all. Scrooge ends up living a happy and fulfilling life either way. I'm curious, though, does it change your feelings as a reader?

The grave scene didn't lead me to believe that Scrooge was in imminent death. When I read it, I figured that we are all going to die so what's point of the grave? I then started to think about how it's the description of the grave with the sign that no one attends it, because it is dirty and covered with weeds, that led me to conclude that it was proof that no one would care that he had died. The part with the woman who steals his things and sells them also supports this point in that Scrooge's death becomes irrelevant to the point that it's only what he left behind materially in which people are interested.

message 19: by Meghan (last edited Dec 22, 2007 08:05AM) (new)

Meghan Okay, I finally finished this book last night! Yay!

But did anyone else notice how the Ghosts lined up with how Christmas normally goes? Past was Christmas Eve - things were just gearing up, there was some jolly-ness going on but it hadn't gotten into full gear. Present was Christmas Day. Everyone was so friendly and kind and forgiving. Kind of how we like to idealize Christmas Day. But Future was kind of the day after Christmas. All I could picture is everyone grumbling "oh we have to go back to work" or "stand in line to return half the gifts we got". There wasn't much joyousness going on. What does that say about us as a society? We seem to fail as much as Scrooge at keeping Christmas in our hearts the whole year 'round.

Anyway, not to get all down and out. I loved this book and I heart Christmas!

message 20: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod

message 21: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments Michele - if i believed my future was set in stone AND i knew what it would i'm not sure that i would bother, but it really depends what it is. could be a really good time anyway :). thank goodness there's no way of knowing for sure what it will be though. definitely keeps things more interesting.

Sera - I think if it's a dream, Scrooge has major guilt issues that I never knew about before. And his response could more likely be termed an overreaction. I would have expected Mr. More-gravy-than-graveyard to have been a little more level-headed, but I guess he was just destined for that happy and fulfilling life of his. :)

and about the gravity of his situation again - yes they definitely were playing off his vanity as well as his self-preservation instincts, I agree. not sure which threat was more prominent though.

Meghan - nice parallel. what does it say about society...perhaps just that christmas has been mindlessly commercialized nearly beyond recognition. would christmas be as special without the daily grind though? maybe the problem is that there *is* such a holiday as christmas at all. perhaps everyday would be more like christmas if there were no focal date to contrast with.

What ever happened to the 12 days of christmas anyway? you'd think the corporations would be all over a tradition like that. not to mention never hearing anything about the 'eight crazy nights' of hannukah.

bah. humbug.

message 22: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Meghan, what a great observation. All the times I have read this, I've never thought about it that way. That's why I love this group.

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