Why is it significant that Scrooge asks if Tiny Tim will live?
Often, it takes experiencing something with all our senses to understand it with both our hearts and minds. At the beginning of the story, Scrooge's clerk, Bob Cratchit, is nothing but an employee from whom he wants to squeeze the most work for the least possible pay. Scrooge has never met Bob's family and feels nothing about them. His heart has closed to the world: if he can't feel for the people he has actual contact with, it is impossible for him to imagine those he hasn't met.
But the Ghost of Christmas Past has begun the process of melting Scrooge's frozen heart, and the Ghost of Christmas Present continues the process by taking Scrooge to see the Cratchits celebrating Christmas. There, Scrooge's heart is stirred to compassion by the plight of the poor disabled Tiny Tim, who is so cheerful despite his leg brace and his crutch. He begins to see the Cratchit family, especially Tiny Tim, as real human beings with worth and dignity, and suddenly it dawns on him that Tim really could die. When he asks the Ghost if Tim will live, it contradicts—as the Ghost points out to him—his earlier contention that the poor and the sick should be left to perish to get rid of the excess population. Now, his heart has changed, and the poor and sick have become real to him, not abstract concepts that suck up money. Scrooge's concern for Tiny Tim is significant because it marks a change in his consciousness toward becoming a compassionate person.
If you have been following along with the plot and character development of Scrooge, you have noticed that at the beginning of story Scrooge is described as
" a squeezing wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his check, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him. . ."
This beautifully written passage creates an image of a man who cares about nothing but money; Scrooge is a man who is void of all human compassion and warmth, and therefore, when he inquires about Tiny Tim's well-being, he reveals that he has changed, that the spirits have redeemed him from the clutches of Hell, and Scrooge's frozen heart has thawed, and he feels human compassion once again, and therefore, the reader feels a sense of relief in Scrooge's transformation.