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ACHRISTMASCAROL:CONCEPT/VOCABULARYANALYSIS

LiteraryText:AChristmasCarolbyCharlesDickens Summary SetinEnglandinthe1800s,AChristmasCaroltellsthestoryofEbenezerScrooge,a miserly,tightfisted,selfish,andmercilessbusinessman.AllthatScroogecaresaboutis money.ThestorybeginsonChristmasEveandfollowsScroogehomewhereheishaunted bytheghostofhisformerbusinesspartner,JacobMarley.Marleyappears,atormented soulinchains,andwarnsScroogethatifhedoesntchangehisways,heisgoingtoendup likeMarley.Toundergoachangeofheart,hetellsScroogethathewillbevisitedbythree morespirits.Overthecourseofthestory,ScroogemeetswiththeGhostsofChristmas Past,Present,andFuture.Throughreflectingonhispast,understandingthingsabouthis present,andlookingintohisdarkfutureifhestaysonhiscurrentpath,Scroogechanges hisheartandvowstorememberthelessonshewastaughtandkeepChristmasallyear round. TheCentralQuestion/EnduringIssue Whatarethemostimportantthingsinlife?Whatbringstruehappiness? Doesmoneybuyhappiness? Scroogeisaperfectexampleoftheideathatmoneydoesnotbuyhappiness.Althoughhe hasasmuchmoneyasanyonecouldwant,hedoesntshareitwithanyone.Hedoesnt evenlethimselfenjoythespoilsofhiswealth,hejustfindspleasureoutofhoardingit.Not onlydoeshenothaveanyonetosharehismoneywith,hehasnomeaningfulrelationships atall.Theonlytimewhenhismoneybringshimaformofhappinessiswhenheisableto useittoblessthelivesofothers. MankindIsEveryonesBusiness(Inservingothers,wefindhappiness) WhenJacobMarleysspiritvisitsScrooge,Scroogetellshimthathewasagoodbusiness man.Marleyrespondsthathisbusinesswasmankind.Hiscareerwasjustafractionof whatheshouldhavebeenworryingabout.ThechoicesthatMarleymadedidnotmake himhappy.Allhewantsnowistobeabletohelpothersthatwouldmakehimhappy.His

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tortureisthathecant.WhenScroogechangeshislifearound,hebecomesaserving, giving,charitableman.Throughthis,heisabletofindgreaterhappiness. RelationshipsBringHappiness ThereisagreatjuxtapositionbetweentheloneunhappinessofMr.Scroogeandthejoy thatcanbefoundinthehomesofBobCratchitandScroogesnephewFred.Onemajor differenceisthatBobandFredhavefamiliestheylovedearly.Althoughtheyareboth poor,theyareextremelyhappycomparedtoScrooge. OrganizationalPatterns AlthoughAChristmasCarolisinbookform,thenovelisnotbrokenupintochapters. Instead,CharlesDickensorganizedthebookinfivestaves.Stavescanrefertoeithera musicalstaff,orversesorstanzas.Thisaddsadditionalmeaningtothetitle,AChristmas Carol,asacarolisafestive,oftenreligioussong.Thebookhasaveryforthrightstructure thefirststaveistheexpositionofthenovel,settingthestage,thenextthreestaves correspondwiththethreespiritsthatvisitScrooge,andthelaststaveistheconclusion.It isashortbook,onlyabout100pagesinlength. Issuesrelatedtothisstudyofliterature: Theme: ActionsandConsequencesTheimportantandlastingconsequencesthatresultfromour actions,forgoodorforevil,isakeythemeofthenovel.ForJacobMarley,theactionsthat hecarriedoutinlifehadeternalconsequences.Hewasdoomedtoroamtheearthin chainsheforged,desperatelycravingtohelpothers,butbeingunable.Marleyalsorefers tothechainthatScroogeisforging,onethatisbiggerandlongerthanMarleys. Thereader,alongwithScrooge,isalsoaffordedarareglimpseatactionsand consequencesthroughthetimetravelingaspectofthenovel.TheactionsthatScrooge choseinhispastshowhowhecametobethepersoninthepresent.Theconsequences

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thatScroogeseesfromtheGhostofChristmasFuturearearesultoftheactionsthatheis choosinginthepresent. ThePowerofOneAlongwiththeideaofactionsandconsequences,itwouldbe importanttobringupthepowerofonepersontochangetheircommunityortheirworld. Scroogehasagreatimpactonmanypeopleinhiscommunity:hisemployeeslikeBob Cratchit,hisnephew,thepeoplehecomesincontactwiththroughhisbusiness,andother strangersthatseehimasaprominentmemberofsociety.Atthebeginningofthenovel whenScroogeisbeinghorrible,hehasagreatinfluenceforevilonthoseincontactwith him.Hedoesntcontributemoneycharitably,heworksCratchittotheboneforlittlepay, hetriestobringhisnephewsspiritsdown,eventually,TinyTimdiesbecausehisfamily didnthaveenoughmoneytogivehimpropercare.However,whenScroogeisusinghis influenceforgood,heisabletomakesomanyothershappierandbetteroff.Hegiveshis moneyfreely,hetakescareofTinyTimandtheCratchits,hemendshisrelationshipwith hisnephew,andinasense,hereshapesthecommunity. RebirthAChristmasCarolisastorythatrevolvesaroundtherebirthofoneman, EbenezerScrooge.ThisisrevealedfromthebeginningofthestorywhenMarleyappears toScrooge.HebluntlytellsScroogethatheistheretogiveScroogeachancetochange. ThismessageisrepeatedbytheGhostofChristmasPastwhenhesaysthathismissionis Scroogesreclamation. Anotheraspectoftherebirththemeinthisnovelisthatanyonecanchange,itisnevertoo late.Scroogeisanoldman.Hehashadyearsofbeingsetinhiswickedways.Still,heis able,throughmiraculoushelp,tocompletelychangehisnatureandbecomeagood,kind, andtrueman. Thisthemecanbringupinterestingclassroomdiscussionsonchange.Thiscanbeatouchy topicthough,especiallyinmiddleschoolwhenthestudentsareinsecureenoughwithout lessonsonpeoplecompletelychangingtheirnature.However,itisavaluableconceptto thinkabout,especiallyforkidswhomaybestartingdownapaththeydontreallywantto follow. Setting:

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ThemajorityofthenovelissetinLondon,Englandinthe19thCentury.Asignificantpartof thenoveltakesplaceinScroogesdarkanddismalhomeandbedchamberwherethe ghostsvisithim,oneaftertheother.Eachoftheghoststakehimtodifferentmeaningful settings.TheGhostofChristmasPasttakeshimtofamiliarscenesfromhispast:his childhoodschool,hisapprenticeship,hisoldloveshome.TheGhostofChristmasPresent takeshimaroundthetownduringChristmasday,particularlytoBobCratchitshomeand hisnephewshome.TheGhostofChristmasYettoCometakesScroogetothebackalleys ofLondoninthenearfuture,andrevisitstheCratchitshome.Anothersignificantsetting theyvisitisthechurchyardcemetery,specificallyScroogesowngrave.Itisimportantto notethattimeisalargepartofthesettinginthisstory. PointofView: Thenovelisalittlecomplicatedinitspointofview.Throughoutthemajorityofthenovel, thestoryistoldinthirdpersonlimitedwithEbenezerScroogeasthecharacterthrough whoseeyesthereaderviewsthings.ThereaderfollowsScroogethewholetime,listensto histhoughts,andseeswhathesees.However,thereisalsoanamountoffirstperson narrativetothestory.Thereaderispositivelyawarethatthestoryisbeingtoldbya narrator,forherandomlyinterjectscommentsorjokesthroughoutthestory.Theidentity ofthenarratorisneverexplicitlysaid,however,itseemsthatCharlesDickenshimselfis supposedtobethenarrator.Itisntastretchtoimaginehimwritingthestoryand includinghishumorouslittlethoughtsinthetext.Theauthorsprefacetothebookalso makesitseemliketheauthorisparticularlypresentinthestory. Allusion: Thisnovelusesmanyallusions,bothliteraryandreligious.WhenScroogetravelsbackto hischildhood,hereflectsuponthebooksheusedtoreadasaboy.Someofthebooksare namedbytitle,butothersarereferencedthroughacharacternameorline.Atanother pointinthenovel,thenarratormakesahumorousreferencetoHamletsfatherwhile talkingaboutghosts.Theallusionwillmostlikelyneedexplanationforthestudentsto understandthehumor.

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Similarly,manyChristianandBiblereferencesappearinthebook.SomeChristianstudents willgettheseallusions,althoughsomearestillobscure.Studentsmayneedhelp understandingthesereferences. AffectiveIssuesrelatedtothework BecauseAChristmasCarolwaswrittensolongago,andthesocietyseemssodifferent fromnow,itcouldseemirrelevanttostudents.Thisiswhyitissoimportantforpertinent themesandapplicabilitytobebroughtoutandfocusedupon.First,focusontheelement ofthesupernaturalinthestory,especiallytheinitialhauntingbyMarley.Ghoststoriesare funandexciting.Muchofrequiredreadingforstudentsdoesntindulgeinghoststothe extentthatAChristmasCaroldoes.Second,thisbookisfuntoreadintheweeksleading uptoChristmas.TherearentmanystoriesasfestiveasAChristmasCarol.Itwouldbea greatwaytoharnesstheexcitementthatbuildsasChristmasbreakdrawsnear. Anotherreasonthisbookisrelevanttostudentsisthatitfocusesonquestionsthatarise aroundChristmastimeeveryyear.WhatisChristmasallabout?Whatisreallyimportantin life?HowamItreatingothers?AmIdoingwhatIcantomaketheworldabetterplace? Thesequestionsoftenariseinthemindsofadults,buttheyapplytoteenagersjustas much.Inschoolsthereisntusuallymuchopportunitytodiscussmoralsorideals,butthis bookisafairlynonthreateningorinvasivewaytotalkaboutthosetopics. Finally,thenovelisapplicabletoteenagersbecauseitfocusesonlearningamajorlesson andturningyourlifearound.Howmanytimesinlifedoesapersonlearnamajorlesson? Howmanytimesdoesitsignificantlyaffectyourlife,orturnitaround?Hasthisever happenedtoyou?Allofthesequestionsareextremelyrelevanttoteenagerswhoare developing,learningandgrowingdaily.Someofthemhavealreadyhadtomakehugelife adjustments,andsomeareontheroadtodoingthat.Itwouldbepositivetobeableto haveamediumthroughwhichtodiscussthisimportantissue. VocabularyIssues Thisnovelwaswritteninthe1800sandbyCharlesDickensnonetheless.Manyofthe wordsinthenovelareadvanced,useBritishspellings,orareoutdatedandmakelittle senseinamodernvocabulary.Withthesethoughtsinmind,thevocabularyinthebookis oftenquiteadvancedforstudentsinmiddleschoolandpossiblyearlyhighschool.Nearly

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everypagecontainssometrickywordsthatmayrequireteacherscaffolding.Onepositive thingaboutAChristmasCarolisthatitissuchafamiliarstory.Moststudentswillhave seenatleastonemovieversionofthestoryorpossiblybeenreadanabridgedversionasa youngerchild.Becausethestoryissofamiliar,studentswillhaveaneasiertimefollowing theplotdespitethevocabularydistractions.However,vocabularyinstructionshouldbe incorporatedinsomeway.Itmightbehelpfultocreateandstudyavocabularylistpriorto readingeachstave. BackgroundKnowledge Aspreviouslystated,moststudentswillbefamiliarwithAChristmasCarolbeforereading it.Thiscanbeanadvantagebecausetheywillbefamiliarwiththestory,thesetting,the characters,etc.However,somepreparationbeforereadingwilldefinitelyhelpstudents getintothemindsetofa19thCenturyauthor.Forexample,itmightbehelpfultobriefly studyCharlesDickenslifeandworkstoseewhereAChristmasCarolfitsinandwhyhe wasmotivatedtowriteit.Itwouldalsobebeneficialtounderstandsomeoftheeconomic situationin19thCenturyEnglandsothatthejuxtapositionbetweenthewealthyandthe poorisfullyunderstood.Afinalbitofbackgroundinformationthatmightbemorefunthan necessarywouldbeabriefstudyofVictorianAgeChristmastraditions. ImplicationsforStudentsofDiversity AChristmasCaroldoesnotinvolveadiverseethnicorculturalpopulation.Allofthe charactersarewhiteandmostofthemaremale.However,raceandethnicityisnotthe onlywayforabooktobediverse.Thebookfocusesintenselyonthedichotomyoftherich andpoor.Characterswithwealthandcharactersbeggingonthestreetarebothportrayed. Whilethishelpstomakethebookmoreversatile,itcouldhavepossiblenegative complicationsforstudentswhosefamiliesstrugglewithmoney.Theymaybemore sensitivetodiscussingmoneyissues,oritcouldprovidethemwithadeeperpersonal connection. ThebookalsocomesfromaveryChristianstandpoint.Studentswhohavebeenraised Christianwillmostlikelyrelatebettertothestory.Theywillunderstandmanyofthe Christianallusionsaswell.Itispossiblethatstudentsortheparentsofstudentswhoareof differentreligionsthatdonotcelebrateChristmascouldbeoffendedbyabookthat

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focusessohighlyontheholiday.However,thebookdoesfocusonmanynonreligion specific,goodqualitiesandhabitsthateveryoneshoulddevelop. GenderIssues Asmentionedinthepreviousparagraph,themajorityofthecharactersinAChristmas Carolaremale.Amyfemalecharactersthatappearinthestoryareminorcharactersat best.Thefewfemalecharacterswithrolesbigenoughtomentioninclude:Scroogeslittle sister,Scroogesbriefloveinterest,Mrs.Cratchitandherdaughters,andScroogesniece. Eachofthesewomenfollowsthe19thCenturystereotypeoffemininity.Scroogeslittle sister,Fan,isadelicatecreaturewithalargeheart.Scroogesloveinterest,Belle,isa dowerlessbutbeautifulmaiden.Mrs.Cratchitisthetypicalhousewife,cookingafabulous Christmasfeastwithherlimitedmeansandmotheringherlittlebrood.Scroogesnieceis exceedinglypretty,witharipelittlemouththatseemedmadetobekissedandthe sunniestpairofeyesyoueversaw.Eachofthesecharactersisratherstereotypicaland onedimensional.Thiscouldbefrustratingforaclassroomfullofmodernfemales. Research/ProjectIdeas PersonalNarrative/Reflection Havestudentsbrainstormaboutatimewhentheyorsomeoneclosetothemhadamajor changeofheartorlearnedalesson.Studentsshouldreflectonwhyitwasimportantfor themtochangetheiropinionoractions.Whatmotivatedthemorsparkedthemto change?Isthisalessoneveryoneshouldlearn? Smallgroupserviceproject Studentswillbreakupintogroupsandbrainstormideasforserviceprojectsinthe classroom,school,orcommunity.Theteacherwillneedtobeastrongresourceforthe studentstomakethisprojectwork.Anentireclassserviceprojectmightbeeasierforthe teachertomanage,butstudentswillbelessindividuallyaccountableforparticipating.At Christmastime,serviceprojectsshouldaboundandbeeasiertogarnerparticipationfrom outsidetheclass.StudentscouldrunaSecretSantaprogramfortheschooloraschool fooddrive.TheclasscouldadoptafamilyforChristmas.

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Thisprojectwouldoffermanywritingopportunities.Studentscouldwritetheforms,fliers, orannouncementstopublicizetheproject.Studentscouldwritepoemstogoalongwith theSecretSantagifts.Studentscouldwritereflectionsontheserviceprojectandtheir personalreactiontoit. EnrichmentResources Movies: ThereareamyriadofmoviescreatedaboutAChristmasCarol.Someoftheminclude:A MuppetChristmasCarol,MickeysChristmasCarol,numerousliveactionAChristmasCarol movies,andevenanewanimatedmoviestarringJimCarreyasScroogeandallthree ghosts.Anyofthesemoviescouldbeshowninclipstoaidthestudentsincomprehension ofthetext.Amoviecouldalsobeusedasareviewingactivityaftertheclasshasfinished alltheassignedreading.Similarly,amoviecouldbewatchedasarewardattheendofthe unit. Websites: Numerouswebsitesliketheonelistedbelowofferextendedamountsofbiographical informationonCharlesDickensandhisworkstohelpwithgainingbackgroundknowledge. http://www.onlineliterature.com/dickens/

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