In A Christmas Carol, what image of the Cratchit family does Dickens give us?
It is the Ghost of Christmas Present that takes Scrooge to view the Christmas that the Cratchit family enjoys, and it is notable that in spite of the many years that Bob Cratchit has worked for Scrooge, Scrooge has never visited his family home. What stands out above all about the Cratchit family is the way that, in spite of their want and poverty, they share the warmth of human love and affection, which is in marked contrast to Scrooge, who, in spite of all of his wealth, is not able to participate in such a relationship. Consider the way that Dickens concludes his portrait of the Cratchits:
They were not a handsome family; they were not well dressed; their shoes were far from being water-proof; their clothes were scanty; and Peter might have known, and very likely did, the inside of a pawnbroker's. But, they were happy, grateful, pleased with one another, and contented with the time; and when they faded, and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings of the Spirit's torch at parting, Scrooge had his eye upon them, and especially on Tiny Tim, until the last.
Dickens shows us therefore through the Cratchit family that wealth does not necessarily bring happiness, and that it is not necessary to be rich to enjoy warmth and human affection. This of course has the effect of filling Scrooge with a yearning for something he only experienced a very long time ago.
In A Christmas Carol, Dickens portrays the Cratchit family as a happy, loving, and contented family, despite the fact that they have very little money. Take Stave Three, for example. In this scene, the Cratchit family sit down to eat Christmas lunch. Although the goose is small and cheap, and the pudding is small and like a "speckled cannon ball," not one member of the family makes a complaint. Instead, they are grateful and happy to be together. Notice the image of the family gathered around the "hearth" and wishing each other a Merry Christmas.
It is also worth noting that the Cratchit family's happiness and love stay strong, even when Tiny Tim dies in Stave Four. For them, the death of Tiny Tim provides a reason to remember happy times and to stick together, as Bob explains:
"And I know,'' said Bob, "I know, my dears, that when we recollect how patient and how mild he was; although he was a little, little child; we shall not quarrel easily among ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it.''
The Cratchit family, therefore, contrast sharply with Scrooge, but their love, contentment, and happiness contribute to his transformation.