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Summary Stave 4

The hooded spirit fills Scrooge with dread. The spirit doesn’t speak, merely gesturing with its hand or inclining its head to Scrooge’s questions. Scrooge fears the spirit more than the others, but as he hopes to be a better man than he was he follows it.

The spirit takes Scrooge to a place where businessmen gather to talk and do transactions. A group of men are discussing the death of a man they knew that had occurred the night before. The details of what he died from and what is going to happen to his fortune are unknown. They don’t know if anyone is going to go to his funeral.

Scrooge knows these men, and he is confused as to why the spirit is showing him such trivial conversations. He keeps looking for his future self in his appointed spot, but he does not see himself.

The spirit takes him to an impoverished, disreputable section of town. Three people enter into a pawn shop and laugh when they recognize each other. The charwoman comments that it is everyone’s right to look after themselves. A dead man won’t miss the items they took from him. If he had wanted to keep them, he should have had someone to look after him instead of dying alone. As far as she Is concerned, it was a judgment against him—and it should have been worse.

The undertaker and laundress only receive a small amount for the items they took. Everyone is impressed by the charwoman’s bundle. She had the nerve to take the bed curtain and blankets from the bed in which the corpse laid—and she even took off the shirt he was going to be buried in. Old Joe asks if the man died of anything contagious, but once assured tells her she is going to make a fortune.

Scrooge is horrified and disgusted by these scavengers. The charwoman continues to talk about how the dead man frightened away everyone when he was alive, and the result of that was that they could profit from his death. Scrooge realizes that this could happen to him.

The spirit takes Scrooge to the room of the dead man. The spirit points to the covered up body, but Scrooge cannot bring himself to remove the cover. Scrooge asks the spirit to show him someone who feels some emotion over this man’s death.

The spirit shows him a couple who were in debt to the man. They are happy he is dead. They expect to have the money they owe by the time the debt is transferred to someone else. Even if they don’t, they don’t expect the next person to be so heartless of a creditor.

Scrooge then asks to see some tenderness connected to a death. The spirit takes him to the Cratchit home. The mother and daughters are sewing while Peter is reading aloud. The children are very quiet. Mrs. Cratchit blames the tears in her eyes on sewing by candlelight. She notes that her husband is late.

Peter remarks how his father is walking slower these days. His mother replies that her husband could walk very fast while carrying Tiny Tim on his shoulders, but the boy had been very light.

Bob enters the home and tells them he visited the spot where Tim will be buried. It is a nice spot. He had promised Tim that he would walk there on Sundays. He goes upstairs to Tim’s room, where the little boy’s body is laying on his bed. After kissing him, he goes back downstairs to his family. He tells them how he ran into Mr. Scrooge’s nephew, who had offered his condolences. Fred told Cratchit that if he ever needed anything, to come visit him. Cratchit is considering going to him to find out if he can find a better situation for Peter. He makes his family promise that they won’t forget about Tiny Tim.

Sensing it is near the time that the spirit will depart, Scrooge asks to know the identity of the dead man he had seen earlier. When the spirit takes Scrooge to the street his business is on, Scrooge peeks into the window. However, he sees different furniture—and it is occupied by another person.

They enter an overgrown churchyard. The spirit points to a gravestone. Scrooge asks if these visions cannot be changed. The neglected grave of the dead man has the name Ebenezer Scrooge on the tombstone. Scrooge vows to be a better man than he was. He promises to honor Christmas all year round. He will remember the lessons he has learned.

He clings to the hand of the spirit, pleading with it to have mercy. Why show him these things if he was beyond redemption? When he looks up, he realizes he is clutching his bedpost.

Charles Dickens