In the story, Cratchit is first seen at work, where he copies letters by hand in an underheated "dismal little cell", "a sort of tank". He is repeatedly described as "ugly" and clothes himself in a tattered white comforter, since he cannot afford a coat. Cratchit is treated poorly by Scrooge and given a weekly salary of "but fifteen shillings", insufficient to provide his family with a proper Christmas dinner.
Scrooge invisibly visits Cratchit and his family in their small Camden Town home on Christmas Day as well as on a future Christmas. He is accompanied on these visits by the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, respectively. In the former vision, Cratchit is portrayed as a loving husband and father who is forgiving enough to defend Scrooge to his wife; in short, he is everything Scrooge is not. In the later vision, Cratchit is seen mourning his son Tiny Tim, who has recently died; Cratchit could not afford to give the sickly boy proper care on his low salary. On Christmas Day Scrooge, who has seen the error of his ways, donates a turkey to Cratchit's family and gives him a raise, and becomes a second father to Tiny Tim.