What does Tiny Tim symbolize?

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rmhope's profile pic

rmhope | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Tiny Tim represents the value of the human being apart from any contribution the person makes to his caretakers or society. Being disabled and a child, Tim is unable to perform any physical labor that would make him useful to his family. He can't be put out to work as some of his siblings are to help enhance the family's income, and chances are he will always be a drain on the family's finances rather than a contributing member of the household in any way that improves their physical lot in life. But he adds so much to his family—he brings them more joy than any other single member because of the simplicity of his innocent, loving heart.

Scrooge begs the Ghost of Christmas Future to "let me see some tenderness connected with a death." Others met his own death with relief and happiness, but Tiny Tim's death elicited deep sorrow. This symbolizes that a human's worth is not measured in monetary wealth or in how useful he is to society. A person is valuable because he loves and is loved; the contributions he makes through loving relationships are worth more than all the wealth in Scrooge's counting house. 

Tiny Tim also represents purity of heart and intention and religious faith—two other characteristics that money cannot buy or affect. The lessons about unconditional love, innocence, and faith that Scrooge learns through Tiny Tim stir Scrooge's heart, causing him to be "overcome with penitence and grief" for his unkind words and actions.

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akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Dickens uses Tiny Tim to represent everything that Scrooge is not.  Whereas Scrooge is miserly and embodies much in way of misery, Tiny Tim is optimistic even if his circumstances would deny such a condition.  At the same time, Tiny Tim embodies the spirit of community and hopeful optimism that Scrooge is not.  Dickens uses Tiny Tim to embody the themes that are central to the work.  Tim represents innocence, and a sense of redemption that is intrinsic to much of what the work seeks to impart through Scrooge's transformation.  When Scrooge is told that he "fears the world too much," it is Tim that displays how one should face the world.  Tim does not face the world with fear and apprehension, but rather with a sense of positive strength and unbounded energy.  Tim represents the idea that individuals do not need to take the form of the world around them.  Rather, they can rise and become a transformational figure in this world.  Such a lesson is something that Tim embodies.  When Scrooge sees Tim die, it is the death of this symbolism, and helps to drive Scrooge to change his ways.  Once again, Tim symbolizes the agent of chnge that is intrinsic to the work's effectiveness.

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