Study Guide

A Christmas Carol Choices

By Charles Dickens

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In a novella where not very much plot actually happens, it is striking that most of what we see the characters actually do is make choices about the kinds of people they want to be. Basically, this adds up to the idea that free will is the paramount power in the world, and A Christmas Carol places a heavy burden on readers. That's because this is a story that stresses that outcomes depend almost entirely on choices. Yikes. That's a whole lot of responsibility.

Questions About Choices

  1. Is there any problem in the text that Scrooge's choice about what to do with his money can't solve? Are we ever shown anything that resembles fate rather than the logical result of human actions (or inaction)?
  2. Which character has the most power to choose? Which has the least? Is there anyone who makes no choice at all? Do the ghosts have free will of any kind—do they make choices?
  3. What's the worst choice that Scrooge makes? Why?

Chew on This

Scrooge actually goes wrong in the way past. It's his decision not to seek out other people during Christmas vacation in school that leads to his eventual complete isolation. Whoops.

The text leaves room to wonder whether Scrooge will be harmed by the same lack of balance that led him to entirely shut the world out—except this time in the other direction, by letting the world in too much.

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