A Christmas Carol: Stave 2, Day 6

The fifth and final scene differs from the other four. The first four remind Scrooge about his former life, the joys and the sorrows. The last one, however, shows Scrooge what his life might have been like if Gain had not replaced his girl as the apple of his eye. The Ghost shows him “a room, not very large or handsome, but full of comfort.” This is the exact opposite of Scrooge’s current abode: plenty of room, but no warmth or light.

Dickens, however, does not linger on the atmosphere. He directs our attention to the people, a young girl and her mother—Scrooge’s former fiancé—and a house full of other children who seem to know little else but fun and laughter and “rough housing.” It is a party without an occasion. 

Soon enough, though, an occasion arrives in the form of the father—and presents. So more “rough housing” begins as the search for presents commences. Finally, the tumult subsides as the little ones are ushered off to bed, and the father sits with his oldest daughter and wife by the fire. And whatever Scrooge may have thought about the rambunctious hoard that made merry before bedtime, he looked longingly at the quiet scene by the fire: a family, enjoying a quiet moment together.

And then to his surprise or horror, Scrooge’s name enters the conversation. The father relays a description of him sitting alone at work while his partner lies on the verge of death. But the description is not just that he is alone at work. The father adds, “Quite alone in the world, I do believe.”

And so the present is not very much different from the past. Scrooge is alone—by his own choosing. 

You and I must decide everyday whether the “rough housing” and messiness and a lack of worldly attainments that usually accompany togetherness outweigh the neatness and orderliness of being alone. 

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