5 of Earth - Bob Cratchit & Tiny Tim

Characters:

Bob Cratchit; Tiny Tim Cratchit.

Book:

A Christmas Carol

      Bob Cratchit is the poor, abused, underpaid clerk of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Cratchit works 60 hours a week for Scrooge's firm, at thruppence an hour. Scrooge keeps the door of his office open so he can keep an eye on Cratchit, who is so cold due to Scrooge's parsimony that he tries unsuccessfully to warm himself with the flame of a candle. As Dickens says, Cratchit, “who, cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge.”

 

 Bob Cratchit is a loving husband and father. The Cratchit family live in abject poverty; their display of glass: “two tumblers, and a custard cup without a handle.” For Christmas dinner, as with their every dinner, they must make the most of what little they have: “Nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so.” Rather than dwell on what they want and need, the Cratchits are grateful, which enables them to enjoy their life and love one another without resentments. The spectre of Scrooge and his cruel misery does haunt the Cratchits, however, although Bob remains generous and kind to his miserly boss. Of course, in some ways he has to, for as little as he earns slaving away for Scrooge, he relies on every penny of it to provide for his family.

 

 Bob Cratchit's youngest child is Tiny Tim, a crippled and sickly boy. Of the hard-done-by Cratchits, Tim is the worst off, yet this small, decrepit boy is the most open-hearted and joyous of them all. This is epitomized at the outset of their meagre Christmas repast, the family's most important time together all year, when Tim exclaims gleefully, “God bless us every one!” As we find out during the course of the novella, Tiny Tim's condition will worsen and he will die, due to a lack of money to pay for the medicines and surgeries which would otherwise cure him.

 

 While it is true Bob Cratchit must remain humble and tolerate Scrooge's abuse lest he lose his job and what little money it garners him, Bob also remains charitable to Scrooge away from work. In this, Bob may be seen as a dupe. But he may also be seen as wise and pragmatic, for allowing hatred and resentment to overtake his heart and his family would destroy the very thing which keeps him and his loved ones happy and close. In this way, it is those who most need charity who must also be and often are, themselves, the most charitable. The essence of charity is that it gives to the giver. The fear and resentment Scrooge hordes is the poison killing him and sickening those around him – he is more crippled and sickly than the least among us, Tiny Tim.

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Shorthand : poverty - destitution - material worries - over-worked and under-paid - no financial security, but love and family - generosity of spirit - charitable of heart - possible adversity afoot - important bonds formed under trying circumstances - unexpected avenues may yet open - selfish interests threaten the greater good - making the best of what you have - do not despair.