In the story A Christmas Carol, Stave 4, what clues alert the reader to the dead buinessman's true identity before Scrooge visits the churchyard?    

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The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come leads Scrooge ahead in time to witness the preparation for burial of an "unknown" businessman.  For the reader (if not for Scrooge himself), the suspicion that this is Scrooge himself should be in the mind from the beginning of this Stave, since all the Spirits have shown Scrooge "the story of his life," so it would stand to reason that this Spirit is also concerned with showing Scrooge part of his potential life story.

This connection might be a bit clouded for Scrooge, since it is quite human (and part of the thematic point of the story) for any human being to ignore that he/she will one day be dead and have only the legacy of how he/she acted in life to live after him/her, but is pretty obvious to the reader.

Here are some specific clues, given as the Stave unfolds,  that the dead man is, in fact, Scrooge himself:

  • The businessmen, which the Spirit first shows Scrooge say, ' “What has he done with his money?” ' and ' “It's likely to be a very cheap funeral," ' both references to Scrooge's famous wealth and miserliness.
  • Later, the Spirit shows Scrooge a dead body on its bed, descirbed this way:

He lay, in the dark empty house, with not a man, a woman, or a child, to say that he was kind to me in this or that, and for the memory of one kind word I will be kind to him.

  • And, as they are on their way to the churchyard, Scrooge notices his own office and looks in the window, and "it was an office still, but not his. The furniture was not the same, and the figure in the chair was not himself," a clue that Scrooge is no longer alive and working in his office, but the dead man already shown by the Spirit.

For more on Stave Four and the Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come, please follow the links below.

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