Background.

A Christmas Carol.
  • Who’s the worse for the loss of a few things like these? Not a dead man, I suppose” is a quotation from A Christmas Carol (Stave 4).

Context.

Quotation said by a laundress who is selling items that belonged to Scrooge to Old Joe. She makes this statement that no one will be worse off by her disposing of a few of his items as if to justify her actions.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has transported Ebenezer Scrooge to a London slum. There, he witnesses a vision of personal effects stolen from a dead man being sold. Unknwon to Scrooge at the time, they are his effects, stolen from his dead body.



Illustration from Stave 4 of the original publication of A Christmas Carol showing Ebenezer Scrooge tormented by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

Character Profile: Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (often referred to as The Ghost Of Christmas Future) is a darker phantom than the other two ghosts and the spirit that Scrooge finds the most fearsome. It appears to him as a figure entirely muffled in a black hooded cloak, except for a single hand with which it points. Although the character never speaks in the story, Scrooge understands it, usually through assumptions from his previous experiences and rhetorical questions. It looks the way it does because it represents what the future holds for Scrooge if he does not change his ways. The Ghost shows Scrooge visions including one of the Cratchit house without Tiny Tim and of Scrooge’s death, his body picked upon by thieves.

Source.

Taken from the following passage in Stave 4 (The Last Of The Three Spirits) of A Christmas Carol:

The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags. The old man raked the fire together with an old stair-rod, and having trimmed his smoky lamp (for it was night), with the stem of his pipe, put it in his mouth again.

While he did this, the woman who had already spoken threw her bundle on the floor, and sat down in a flaunting manner on a stool; crossing her elbows on her knees, and looking with a bold defiance at the other two.

“What odds then! What odds, Mrs. Dilber?” said the woman. “Every person has a right to take care of themselves. He always did.”

“That’s true, indeed!” said the laundress. “No man more so.”

“Why then, don’t stand staring as if you was afraid, woman; who’s the wiser? We’re not going to pick holes in each other’s coats, I suppose?”

“No, indeed!” said Mrs. Dilber and the man together. “We should hope not.”

Very well, then!” cried the woman. “That’s enough. Who’s the worse for the loss of a few things like these? Not a dead man, I suppose.

“No, indeed,” said Mrs. Dilber, laughing.

“If he wanted to keep ’em after he was dead, a wicked old screw,” pursued the woman, “why wasn’t he natural in his lifetime? If he had been, he’d have had somebody to look after him when he was struck with Death, instead of lying gasping out his last there, alone by himself.”

“It’s the truest word that ever was spoke,” said Mrs. Dilber. “It’s a judgment on him.”

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Who’s the worse for the loss of a few things like these? Not a dead man, I suppose.
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