We don’t change locations in this second scene; we just change time. Scrooge is older now. Dickens notes that “he was not reading now, but walking up and down despairingly.” No imagination now. His imaginary friends can no longer keep him company. He misses flesh and blood. He realizes the inadequacy of being alone.
But a sudden burst of light enters the room in the form of his little sister, and all of a sudden we realize that Scrooge is not without family, which allows a whole other set of questions to come rushing in along with the sister. Why is he at this boarding school and not at home? What family does he have? Where are they? And why is he here and his sister not?
The sister has come to take him home—well, sort of. He does get to come home for the holidays, but when those are over, he is going to be apprenticed out to someone. That’s what Fan means when she tells him he is going to be a man. But we’re not sure she understands just what’s happening. She thinks it’s going to be “forever and ever” and that father has had a change of heart when it comes to Scrooge. Maybe I’m cynical; maybe Dickens’s other works have set me against this father, but I sense there’s more greed than growing kindness in him, more hope of gain than “home’s like Heaven!” as Fan said.
And then we meet the schoolmaster and see that Scrooge’s impression of grownups has to be one of evil veneered over with a broad smile. I like this guy less than the Scrooge of Stave 1. At least with Scrooge you don’t have to worry about where you stand.
And yet, while I’m focused on the grownups in the story: the father and the schoolmaster, Scrooge is not. There are no comments from Scrooge about either the father or the schoolmaster. No editorializing, no complaints, no evaluations. Why is that? Wouldn’t this be the perfect time for Scrooge to enter into a rant about the evils of hypocrisy or the necessity of parents to properly care for their children or how kids can see through the games adults play?
Scrooge doesn’t go there because his mind is not fixed there. His mind is on his sister. Which reminds him of his nephew—his only family left. And once again, we find that Scrooge is thinking back over his day, his choices, his actions toward people. And we hope.
Scrooge is beginning to have his eyes opened as we talked about yesterday. And where he chooses to focus his sight is important. He could have focused on the adults in his life, and I imagine that would have led him down a far different path than he currently seems to be on. Instead he focused on something else. How important is our focus? How important is it that we set our minds on the right things? Read Philippians 4:8–9 and Colossians 3:1–4. What do these passages tell us about our thinking? And how does the incarnation make this kind of thinking possible?