A great many of Dickens’ stories begin the way this one does, with the heartless rich man spreading all sorts of misery. And a great many of his stories end the way this one does, with the good-hearted rich man swooping in as a deus ex machina to make everything right again. The magical thing about A Christmas Carol is that in this story, they’re the same person.
But how much parental love and responsibility is exhibited by the sniveling and whining Bob Cratchett, who does little more than sit around and hope, . . . hope that someone will show up with more ambition and sense of urgency and caring for Tiny Tim than do he and his deeply lobotomized family. What if your child was drowning in a lake: would you just stand on the shore and hope that a Boy Scout would show up looking for a daily "good deed" to perform? What if you came upon a school building that was afire and full of trapped, screaming children. Would you just stand there and watch and wonder to yourself: "why doesn’t someone sound the fire alarm or try to rescue those poor children?" Such would have been the response of Bob Cratchett; such is the model of individual responsibility offered up to us by Charles Dickens!
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