Christmas Eve marks the return of Catherine Earnshaw to Wuthering Heights, and she returns a much changed girl. In her absence, Hindley has succeeded in relegating Heathcliff to the status of a servant, which is how he is treated. In fact, when Catherine returns, Hindley introduces him as such.
'Heathcliff, you may come forward,' cried Mr. Hindley, enjoying his discomfiture, and gratified to see what a forbidding young blackguard he would be compelled to present himself. 'You may come and wish Miss Catherine welcome, like the other servants.'
Hindley is truly cruel and torturous in his treatment of Heathcliff. This continues the next day, when Hinldey invites the Lintons to spend Christmas with them. Although Heathcliff promises to attempt to "be good", it all goes terribly wrong, as Hindley and Edgar greet his every move with contempt.
I urged my companion to hasten now and show his amiable humour, and he willingly obeyed; but ill luck would have it that, as he opened the door leading from the kitchen on one side, Hindley opened it on the other. They met, and the master, irritated at seeing him clean and cheerful, or, perhaps, eager to keep his promise to Mrs. Linton, shoved him back with a sudden thrust, and angrily bade Joseph 'keep the fellow out of the room - send him into the garret till dinner is over. He'll be cramming his fingers in the tarts and stealing the fruit, if left alone with them a minute.'
'Nay, sir,' I could not avoid answering, 'he'll touch nothing, not he: and I suppose he must have his share of the dainties as well as we.'
'He shall have his share of my hand, if I catch him downstairs till dark,' cried Hindley. 'Begone, you vagabond! What! you are attempting the coxcomb, are you? Wait till I get hold of those elegant locks - see if I won't pull them a bit longer!'
So as soon as he enters the kitchen, Hindley demands that Heathcliff be locked away from the rest of the family, and proceeds to tease and torment him for trying to clean himself up and join the party.