A Christmas Carol

by: Charles Dickens

Tiny Tim

Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he 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.

Bob Cratchit recounts his son Tiny Tim’s words. Instead of regretting the fact that he can’t walk, Tiny Tim feels happy to think his handicap might benefit others. He hopes his disability and suffering will remind them of Christ, thus making them happier on Christmas. Tiny Tim reflects the spiritual wisdom of a much older person, probably as the result of his suffering and illness. He embodies the opposite characteristics of Scrooge, who has gained no wisdom in his long life and never thinks of others.

“If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race,” returned the Ghost, “will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

After Scrooge asks the Ghost of Christmas Present what the future holds for Tiny Tim, the Spirit’s answer makes clear that Tiny Tim, without help, will soon die. The Ghost, for emphasis, uses one of Scrooge’s earlier quotes about what poor people should do, a statement which now makes Scrooge ashamed. Scrooge, like many readers, identifies with one individual more easily than with a group. Tiny Tim serves to create that connection for the reader, too.

“I’ll drink his health for your sake and the Day’s,” said Mrs. Cratchit, “not for his. Long life to him! A merry Christmas and a happy New Year! He’ll be very merry and happy, I have no doubt!” The children drank the toast after her. It was the first of their proceedings which had not heartiness in it. Tiny Tim drank it last of all, but he didn’t care twopence for it. Scrooge was the Ogre of the family. The mention if his name cast a dark shadow on the party….

After Bob Cratchit toasts Mr. Scrooge as “the founder of the feast,” the person who made their Christmas dinner possible, Mrs. Cratchit follows with a sarcastic toast of her own. But no one in the family wants to think about Scrooge on Christmas, not even Tiny Tim. The boy empathizes with almost everyone, but to him, Scrooge exists as a feared figure. Tiny Tim seems saintly, but ultimately, he is a child living in the real world.