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A Christmas Carol - Extract 2

This GCSE English Literature quiz is the second of two extract questions for A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It takes place near the end of the novella after Scrooge has willingly received the visit of the final Spirit. Jacob Marley and the three Ghosts have each been to see Scrooge and to impart their messages to him. Scrooge has begun to have a change of heart towards those he has neglected, especially Bob Cratchit and his son, Tim. Scrooge also feels a little sorry for himself after overhearing both Mrs Cratchit and Fred’s wife criticise and poke fun at him. Stave Four takes Scrooge into some uncomfortable visions of the future “yet to come”.

How to answer an extract question in an exam:

It is always a good idea to read the passage through carefully more than once before attempting to answer an extract question for an exam.

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Because you will notice different aspects of the passage on each read-through, re-reading is never a waste of time. The first time you read the passage, aim for a general understanding of the extract and how it relates to the question you have chosen to answer. You can begin to make detailed notes and annotations as you plan your answer more carefully during a second reading.

Ask yourself why the specific passage has been chosen. How does it fit with the rest of the text? Are any significant characters or themes introduced? What happens next? Does the passage foreshadow later events? Does it indicate a turning point? Consider the ending of the extract, asking yourself why it ends where it does instead of somewhere else. What might be significant about the final line?

Pay close attention to the wording of the question you have chosen to answer. Perhaps it requires you to write about mood and atmosphere, or a particular character. Or the question might ask for your personal response to the passage or to a character. Maybe dialogue, behaviour or feelings are the focus of the question. Always explain the passage’s immediate context: acknowledge the events which precede the extract, considering their relevance. Discuss detail, setting and characterisation in the extract. In your response, you should also analyse and discuss the relationship between the passage and the wider themes of the text. Group related ideas together to structure your writing. Be sure to leave enough time to discuss the entire passage. It is always disappointing to cover one section in so much detail that you run out of time to do justice to the rest of the extract!

Read the extract below carefully before answering the questions.

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“Spectre,” said Scrooge, “something informs me that our parting moment is at hand. I know it, but I know not how. Tell me what man that was whom we saw lying dead?”

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed him, as before — though at a different time, he thought: indeed, there seemed no order in these latter visions, save that they were in the Future — into the resorts of business men, but showed him not himself. Indeed, the Spirit did not stay for anything, but went straight on, as to the end just now desired, until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment.

“This court,” said Scrooge, “through which we hurry now, is where my place of occupation is, and has been for a length of time. I see the house. Let me behold what I shall be, in days to come!”

The Spirit stopped; the hand was pointed elsewhere.

“The house is yonder,” Scrooge exclaimed. “Why do you point away?”

The inexorable finger underwent no change.

Scrooge hastened to the window of his office, and looked in. It was an office still, but not his. The furniture was not the same, and the figure in the chair was not himself. The Phantom pointed as before.

He joined it once again, and wondering why and whither he had gone, accompanied it until they reached an iron gate. He paused to look round before entering.

A churchyard. Here, then, the wretched man whose name he had now to learn, lay underneath the ground. It was a worthy place. Walled in by houses; overrun by grass and weeds, the growth of vegetation’s death, not life; choked up with too much burying; fat with repleted appetite. A worthy place!

The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to One. He advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was exactly as it had been, but he dreaded that he saw new meaning in its solemn shape.

“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said Scrooge, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!”

The Spirit was immovable as ever.

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.

The figure pointed from the grave to him, and back again.

“No, Spirit! Oh no, no!”

The finger was still there.

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (Odhams Press)

  1. What is the immediate context for this passage?
    Scrooge asked to see a death that was mourned with tenderness and was shown Tiny Tim's death being mourned by his family
  2. What immediately follows this passage?
    Scrooge promises to "honour" Christmas and to "keep it all the year"
  3. Which one of the following does NOT exemplify the Spirit's "inexorable" nature?
    "Inexorable" means being impossible to persuade. The Spirit is unmoved by Scrooge until, after this passage, its hand begins to tremble
  4. Why does the Spirit point towards the churchyard when Scrooge wishes to see his place of occupation?
    It takes Scrooge a while to realise what the Spirit is trying to show him
  5. Which of the following does NOT describe the mood of this passage?
    Scrooge suspects what the gravestone will say, but dreads confirmation of his suspicions. "Tense" is not a strong enough word to express his mortal dread
  6. Why is EBENEZER SCROOGE in capital letters?
    Inscriptions on gravestones are usually in all capital letters
  7. The churchyard is described as being "fat with repleted appetite". What effect does this phrase have?
    The passage describing the churchyard is vivid and disturbing
  8. At what point does Scrooge begin to realise that he is the man whose death is un-mourned?
    The process is gradual, but Scrooge's dread shows that he finally understands the Spirit's purpose in showing him the graveyard. Before this point he believes the lesson is that he himself might become like this un-mourned man
  9. The Spirit "pointed down to One". Why is "One" capitalised?
    Scrooge's death is a tragedy only to himself. As he has seen, some people have actually benefitted from his death. Because his life does not do others any good, the terrible significance of his grave affects no one but himself
  10. What is the significance of the final line in this passage?
    The Spirit does not begin to relent until Scrooge promises to change. Until now he has hoped for a changed future without absolutely committing to change himself first

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