Monday, 31 December 2012

God Bless Us, Every One!!!

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity and the time to read this book during this Christmas/Holiday season. Now I didn't reach my goal of finishing it before Christmas... Stacey you are awesome for doing so... but I still loved reading it. (It also gave me hope that someday my brain will be smart enough to understand a full Dickens novel!)

I love the simple message of this book... that we can change. That nothing is fully set in stone, not even our personalities. We can and should continually improve to be the best self that we can be that will bless ourselves and all those we come into contact with.

Now I wanted to be smart and try and think of great discussion questions... well I'm not very original, so I googled it (or I might acutally have used bing...) and this is some of what it came up with:

1. Had you read A Christmas Carol before? Did anything surprise you in the book?
2. This is a very short book, and not the only Christmas story that Dickens wrote. Why do you think that it and its message endured and became such a part of English-speaking culture?
3. Did you have a favorite part? What image or line or scene sticks with you the most, if one does?
4. How would you characterize Bob Cratchit’s attitude toward Scrooge? Scrooge’s attitude toward Cratchit? Besides literal heat, what might be the symbolism of the tiny coal fire that Cratchit has in the office?
5. How is Scrooge affected by seeing the Cratchit family?
6. What is the lesson Scrooge learns when the ghost shows him the Cratchit family after Tim’s death? Why is this lesson needed when Scrooge’s attitude has already changed so much?
7. Is Scrooge’s transformation believable?

Now I want to have an actual discussion so I'm not sure if I should answer the questions on my own or wait to see what other people think or write???

***On a side note and final note, here are some of the quotes or lines of the characters that really stuck with me:

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you." p.23

"The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power forever." p.28

"I should have liked, I do confess, to have had the lightest license of a child and yet to have been madn enough to know its value." p.53

"...For it is always the person not in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done in it, and would unquestionably have done it too..." p.59

"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that, while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor." p.81

"...For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas..." p.85

"Best and happiest of all, the time before him was his own, to make amends in!" p.115

Alright so I actually want to see what everyone else thinks before I share my own opinion. I hope more than Stacey and myself read... but if not, I still think it will be an awesome conversation!

So start talking/typing!


  1. I love reading it again. I keep forgetting how scary it is, but I love the message and I think the reason that it has endured is because we all want a chance to reflect on the past. I think we do get set in our ways and then we need to remember the past to see if we're making progress in the right way.

    What surprised me in reading it again was that I forget just how descriptive Dickens is. I love the line "He iced his office in the summer and did not warm it one bit in the winter." He paints such detailed portraits of the scene with words.
    I also think that the reason Tiny Tim's death affects Scrooge so much is because of the contrast. He has just seen the world's reaction to the death of a well-known and "important" man. They are indifferent. Tiny Tim is mourned more by his family than that man was by his peers.

    I could write so much more!
    So what did you think?

    1. I too love Dickens' writing style in the novel. His descriptions as well as his wit. His turn of phrase as the narrator is often funny and biting.

      I think what makes Tiny Tim's death poignant as well is that the child deserved to mourned by all. His name should have been mentioned by all of London in the same solemnity as his family did and yet it wasn't. The business man's name was and then to also linked with disdain. The dichotomy couldn't be further apart.

  2. Thank you Stacey for being the one to jump into the questions and discussion! You're awesome!

    Now I have seen several adaptations of A Christmas Carol but have not read it. I think it will now become a tradition to read this during the holidays. I loved the simplicity and the wonderful descriptions of the characters and the enviornments. Now I'm not too sure if I have a favorite part. I like seeing the transformation in Scrooge. From reading the story I see that his change comes throughout the book, not just a quick change at the end, and I appreciate that more than what I see in some of the movie adaptations. I love seeing the Cratchit family, and I hope someday to have a family with the morals and central values that they do. Now I hope I'm never at the level of poverty that they are, but I do want a home with all that love!

    I was really struck with the contrast of Scrooge's death in the future and Tiny Tim's death. I never really focused on the difference in any of my previous viewings, but I really felt that it confirmed every fear and thought that Scrooge had about himself and his current lifestyle. He was alone and the only one eternally hurt by his choices would be himself. I think he became such a great surrogate father for Tiny Tim because Tiny Tim changed Scrooge's life and gave him a glimpse into the man he wanted to become. I really think Scrooge's change was permanent because all aspects of his life changed. He didnt' give himself a way out. He jumped wholy into this new life and I think that is the way to have lasting change... to jump into it with both feet.

    Oh man such a great little book! So glad it's a classic!

    1. I am coming at this in the same way you are. I have seen countless versions and was even reminded of a scene preformed from it within a Star Trek episode. I learned so much more reading it. For example I took the blob of mustard line (one of my absolute favorites from the first time I herd it) to be defiant and cold hearted on Scrooge's part. To realize through the narrator that Scrooge's bravado was a cover for his absolute terror was interesting and added dimension to the character.

      Reading it also made me realize why there really needed to be all three ghosts. If he had stopped at one or even two he would have changed for a bit and then fallen back into old habits and continued to forge his chains. It makes me wonder about times when I too want to make changes. What to do I need to do or realize to make those changes permanent? We have can see the first two ghosts, so to speak, but the third is elusive to us. We need try and see the bigger picture, what that change we are trying to make will have in our lives. That is also the hard part. If it is a good worthwhile change see what our lives will be if you don't make it is hard to admit to ourselves. The truth is often ugly and scary, just like the third ghost. Have you ever seen Scrooged with Bill Murray? The third ghost always freaked me out. Even Gonzo and Rizzo wouldn't stay to watch in the Muppet version.

  3. I also really like Fred, the nephew. He loves life and I like his kindness toward his uncle even when Scrooge is horribly mean to him. Fred also uses his money and influence for good, as seen by his reaction to Tiny Tim's death.

    1. I know, it gave me a new respect for Fred. He is a wonderful character.

  4. I haven't finished it yet, but you guys have spoilt the ending! Just kidding! And I'm nearly there. Give me a day or two. So far, I really love the idea of getting to know a person before you judge them, which is why I like that we get to see some of Scrouge's earlier years. It just shows that he wasn't always so money focused, and he could really appreciate the value in his old employer throwing a party for everyone even though it would have been expensive. As far as I can tell the book doesn't explain exactly what happened to make Scrouge so money focused, I supposed it happened gradually as he started to earn it. But I like that the object of the book was to return Scrouge to more of his former self, and perhaps better too, rather than changing a bad man into a good one. Perhaps the fact that he had such potential to start with was the reason that the spirits visitations were going to be effective. I feel so sorry for Marley, since it was too late for him! It makes me wonder is he was irredeemable for some reason.

    1. I think Marley was serving as a warning for Scrooge, but I don't see him as irredeemable. If you're curious about Marley, you might like "Jacob T Marley" by R William Bennett.

    2. My Grandmother mentioned that book to me too Stacey after I told her I read this.

      I think Marley is redeemable. He said, "'How it is that I appear before you in a shape that you can see, I may not tell. I have sat invisible beside you many and many a day.'. . . 'That is no light part of my penance,' pursued the Ghost. 'I am here tonight to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate. A chance and hope of my procuring, Ebenezer.'" I think Marley wanted to be there. He saw Scrooge makeing the same mistakes and wanted to save his friend from the same, "Incessant torture of remorse."

  5. This book very much so reminded me of the morality plays from the Middle Ages. Dickens seemed to want to entertain, of course, but through that entertainment to chastise and teach. I wish I knew more about what London was historically like and if I was reading this for a college class I most certainly would be doing a lot of research, but I am too lazy to be doing anymore than just reading it. ;) But due to its continuing popularity it must have struck several chords with the people of his time period. So often I am asking my students what is the moral of the story? What did the author want you to learn from what they have written? I think my favorite quote sums it up rather well,
    "I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it." Scrooge made his choices himself and he must make the choice to change. We have our agency, but we also have consequences and if we don't like the consequences we need to make a different choice.

    What do you think the moral of the story is?

    1. I think the moral of the story is... we make of our life what we want of it. We are the masters of our choices... but we aren't the masters of our consequences.

      That and it is never too late to start over. Repentance or a change of heart can always happen, but when they do they need to stick!

  6. I love the discussion in this book! We may not have as many people actually reading with us, but I love how we all voice our opinions and can feel closer to one another! =)

    THANK YOU!!!

  7. I think the moral of the story is to remember the past, present and future. If you just focus on one of those then you go off track. Scrouge got so focused on the little part of his present that he went to extremes. Being reminded to broaden his vision was what moved him to see what is important.