Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol

Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

Ebenezer Scrooge feels pity and concern for Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol.' Perhaps more than any other character, Tiny Tim contributes to Scrooge's change of heart about the value of people and the importance of human relationships.

Scrooge Observes Tiny Tim

The Ghost of Christmas Present, like all three spirits that have been summoned by the Ghost of Jacob Marley, intends to teach Ebenezer Scrooge a lesson he won't forget. This ghost sets out to accomplish his mission by showing Scrooge how his acquaintances celebrate Christmas. The Ghost of Christmas Present provides Scrooge with his first encounter with Tiny Tim.

Who Is Tiny Tim?

Tiny Tim is the youngest son of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's accounting clerk. Bob Cratchit is clearly devoted to his son; in fact, he carries Tiny Tim on his shoulders when Scrooge is first shown a vision of the Cratchits at home.

Scrooge watches as the rest of the family waits at home for Bob and Tiny Tim Cratchit to return from church on Christmas Day. Bob Cratchit and his wife talk while the other children take Tiny Tim away to play. Cratchit is pleased with Tiny Tim's behavior at church. Then Bob reveals that Tiny Tim ''hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.'' Tiny Tim uses a crutch to walk, and Bob Cratchit indicates that Tim's health is tenuous.

Scrooge continues watching the scene at the Cratchit home as the family enjoys what is clearly the most important meal of the year to them. ''God bless us every one!'' Tiny Tim shouts with glee. Cranky, old Scrooge is so touched by Tiny Tim that he asks the ghost what is to become of the boy.

''I see a vacant seat,'' replies the Ghost of Christmas Present, ''in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die.''

Visions of a Possible Future

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has no doubt noticed Scrooge's affection for Tiny Tim, so he uses a vision of the young boy to further reinforce the lessons brought to Scrooge by the previous ghost, The Ghost of Christmas Present.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge what happens when a miserly, old man dies, and the sight is rather depressing to Scrooge. ''Let me see some tenderness connected with a death,'' Scrooge begs the ghost, ''or that dark chamber, Spirit, which we left just now, will be forever present to me.''

At this request, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge a different vision of the Cratchit home, this time after Tiny Tim has died. The Cratchits say that they believe Tiny Tim has been sent by God, and they vow to never forget him.

The Present

After Ebenezer Scrooge finally learns to value people more than material possessions, the bleak outcome predicted by the final ghost is avoided. Scrooge even sends the Cratchit family a Christmas turkey. Dickens says of Scrooge: ''To Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.''

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