Passage: Pp. 128-131 in the Penguin edition of A Christmas Carol

"Dickens as the boy," explained Rowland Hill, a Dickensian who had seen the author read. . . ,"put his thumb to his nose, and spread out his fingers, with a jeer, at the syllable ER. This was a common way to call their pals 'Fools' without using the word." (Hearn 165)

Discussion Questions

1. What is the effect of this Cockney slang after Scrooge's visioned death?

2. What is the significance of Scrooge's identifying himself with "Joe Miller" (129)?

3. This scene was criticized in the Westminster Review as being "grossly incompatible with political economy" for "The process whereby poor men are enabled to earn good wages, wherewith to buy turkeys for themselves, does not enter into the account" (cited in Hearn 166). With what political faction does Dickens seem to be allying himself in this scene? What would a Marxist critic make of Scrooge and his conduct here?

4. Why does Dickens arrange for Scrooge to bump into the "portly gentleman"?

5. Dickens has been accused of turning the festivity of Christ's birth into a celebration of eating and drinking: what minimal gesture does Dickens make here towards the Christian spirit of the holiday?

6. The conclusion involves social re-integration of the aberrant spirit and reinitiation into the human brotherhood. How does this passage contribute to this movement?

Last modified May 21, 2003

Last modified 8 June 2007