In the story, "A Christmas Carol," what point does Scrooge's nephew, Fred, make about who suffers the most from Scrooge's negative attitude?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Stave Three of "A Christmas Carol," Scrooge sees a glimpse of the present-day when he is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present. During a look into his nephew's house, he hears Fred make an important conclusion about Scrooge's negative attitude:

Who suffers by his ill whims? Himself, always.

In other words, the only person who suffers as a result of Scrooge's temper is Scrooge himself. This conclusion represents one of the story's most important social messages: namely, that people who mistreat others and do not change will become the victims of their own misgivings. This is because a negative attitude leads to feelings of alienation and isolation, as we see through the character of Scrooge. Throughout his past, he has mistreated so many people that he spends his days alone and nobody asks about his health, as we learn in Stave One:

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, "My dear Scrooge, how are you. When will you come to see me.'' No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. 

Scrooge reacts to this scene with uncharacteristic happiness:

Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light of heart, that he would have pledged the unconscious company in return, and thanked them in an inaudible speech, if the Ghost had given him time. 

The explanation for this change in his demeanor is that Scrooge is beginning to understand how his negativity has affected himself and those around him. He has taken the first steps to reformation and redemption and is finally enjoying life, just like his nephew, Fred.