Scrooge and the ASVAB

armed-forces-logoIn Stave One of Charles Dickens’ novella “A Christmas Carol” Mr. Scrooge is visited by his dead ex-business partner Jacob Marley on Christmas Eve. During their meeting Scrooge asks Marley, “why do spirits walk the earth and why do they come to me?”  To which Marley responds, “It is required of every man … that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen … and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death.

This requirement bears certain similarities to the requirement that every candidate for enlistment in the U. S. Armed Services must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. This requirement also requires that the candidate properly prepare for the ASVAB typically by taking multiple versions of the ASVAB practice test.

Jacob Marley’s description of the afterlife suggests that Hell within the context of the story exists within the material world and not in a separate location.  Marley’s ghost goes on to explain that he “wears the chains [he] forged in life.”  Each link was forged from all of his sins of commission and omission.  Interestingly, he also says he is permitted only a little time to converse with Scrooge suggesting that his punishment is being directly supervised by some other entity.

Scrooge does not understand why Marley deserves punishment because he was a good man of business.  Nor does Scrooge contemplate taking the ASVAB practice test. This makes perfect sense as there is nothing in the story that would indicate that he is contemplating joining the U. S. Armed Services. Finally he reveals his purpose to Scrooge.  Jacob Marley’s purpose is to help Scrooge escape his fate.  This begs the question why Marley was not given the same chance to escape his fate?  Was there no other ghost who felt compassion for Marley?  Does Scrooge live within a solipsistic universe?