Fellow Passengers to the Grave – Thoughts on “A Christmas Carol” Part II

Before Scrooge heads home for the night on Christmas Eve, he receives three earthly visitations to his office.  The first (and most important in terms of the circularity of the story) is his nephew Fred.  Fred is an affable fellow and is Scrooge’s only living blood relation.   He has a positive energy about him and wishes his uncle a robust “Merry Christmas.”  Scrooge rebuffs him with his first “Bah Humbug” of the novella.  Fred then launches into a diatribe about the positive things about the Christmas season.

… I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.  And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!

I love the line about people being “fellow-passengers to the grave.”  By this he is saying that life is like a conveyance that we all hopped on to at one point. It is also a conveyance we are all destined to hop off when the ride is over.  This begs the question, where and who we are when we are not on this ride?  There is also a subdued reference to Christianity but the spiritual universe that eventually unfolds in this story is somewhat different than (but not altogether incompatible with) the spiritual universe typically depicted by traditional Christianity.

Scrooge (somewhat out of left field) demands of Fred the reason he got married.  Fred responds, “Because I fell in love.”  Scrooge objects to this reason as financially unsound.  That is, he believes it would be irresponsible for a person to get married if that person did not have enough money to support the family that the marriage generated.  It is funny that despite Scrooge accusing his nephew of being poor and his nephew tacitly agreeing with this description, in every version of “A Christmas Carol” I have ever seen Fred is depicted as well dressed and living in a very well apportioned house.  Perhaps he was living on credit.  At any rate, we know that Scrooge’s real (but perhaps subconscious) reason for objecting to Fred’s nuptials is that Scrooge himself had missed out on marrying the woman he had loved for financial reasons.  More on that later when I get to the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Fred then invites Scrooge to dinner on Christmas Day.  Scrooge rejects the invitation thus setting the stage for the story to resolve itself in the end by Scrooge accepting the invitation.  On his way out, Fred wishes Bob Cratchit (who sympathizes with Fred’s view of Christmas) a Merry Christmas.  Bob is conflicted because he wants to be both loyal to his employer and to his heart at the same time.

The next Earthly visitors are the two gentlemen seeking money for the poor.  Scrooge rudely rebuffs them.  They also set the stage for Scrooge’s eventual redemption.  I do not consider them as important as Fred in this regard but they do add some extra bulk to it I suppose.  The same is true with the last Earthly visitors, the children caroling outside.  They are also rejected by Scrooge.  There may be a connection here with Scrooge’s affection for Tiny Tim and the boy outside his window on Christmas morning.

2 Comments

Filed under A Christmas Carol

2 responses to “Fellow Passengers to the Grave – Thoughts on “A Christmas Carol” Part II

  1. Pingback: The Ghost of Christmas Past – Thoughts on “A Christmas Carol” Part IV | Winston Scrooge

  2. Pingback: Thoughts on Advent and Christmas | Winston Scrooge

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