What does Scrooge discover about the dead man at the end of Stave IV in A Christmas Carol?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scrooge discovers that the dead man is himself when he sees his name on the headstone.

In A Christmas Carol, Stave 4, Scrooge is in denial.  He has decided to reform himself, and he is actively looking for lessons. He wonders where his future self is.

For he had an expectation that the conduct of his future self would give him the clue he missed and would render the solution of these riddles easy. (Stave 4)

 Scrooge gets many visions of the dead man.  He realizes that no one is going to the dead man’s funeral.  He also sees that the dead man’s servants have stolen his belongings, right down to the shirt he was going to be buried in.  Yet he does not see himself in these visions.  In Scrooge’s mind, he is already reformed.  He pictures himself as a good person in the future, not as the same one.  What Scrooge has lost sight of is that these are visions of the future if he does not change.

Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went, and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, EBENEZER SCROOGE.

“Am I that man who lay upon the bed?” he cried, upon his knees. (Stave 4)

This is when Scrooge openly vows to change.  He tells the spirit that there was no point in showing him all of this if he is past all hope.  He is going to sponge out the writing on the stone.  He is going to be a better person, and not die alone.


stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scrooge reads his own name upon the gravestone; he is the dead man whose death has been discussed, and in many cases celebrated, during his travels with the Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come.

However, Scrooge has learned from the spirits who visited him, and he attempts to learn if the things he has been shown, including his death and the reactions to it, are irreversible or if they might be changed.

Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead...But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. ...I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope!

There is no verbal response from the Spirit, despite Scrooge's pleadings and pulling at its robe. As he continues to beseech the Spirit for some reassurance, however, the pointing finger trembles, which Scrooge seizes upon as an indication that there is yet hope for his redemption from the dreadful fate indicated by the deserted grave.

Read the study guide:
A Christmas Carol

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