A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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What does it mean in A Christmas Carol when it says Marley has no bowels?

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Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels, but he had never believed it until now. (A Christmas Carol, stave 1, "Marley's Ghost")

This is, at first glance, a simple observation on Scrooge's part. When Marley first appears to him, Scrooge notices that Marley's body "was transparent" "so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind."

Apparently, Marley wasn't entirely transparent, because Scrooge could see that Marley's face was "the very same" as the face he remembered and could see the "pig-tail" in Marley's hair. He could also see the horrid expression on Marley's face when Marley untied the bandage from around his head and his lower jaw dropped to his chest, which is likely where Scrooge's jaw dropped, too.

Nevertheless, Scrooge could see through Marley's mostly transparent body to "the two buttons on his coat behind."

Scrooge is not a person who's inclined to make jokes, so even though Dickens, and possibly...

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