The Ghost of Christmas Past visits Scrooge in the second part of "A Christmas Carol." When they first meet, the ghost tells Scrooge that he represents Scrooge's past, not the past in general, and that his visit is prompted by concern for Scrooge's welfare. What is most interesting about this opening conversation is that the ghost appears able to read Scrooge's thoughts. Internally, for example, Scrooge mocks the ghost's reason for visiting, believing that a night of unbroken sleep would have a more positive effect on his welfare. As if by telepathy, the ghost retorts that it is more a question of Scrooge's "reclamation" than of welfare.
The course of the ghost's visit continues along this theme. The ghost shows Scrooge painful memories of his childhood and formative years and appears to know the people from Scrooge's past intimately. Of his sister, Fanny, for instance, the ghost comments on her "large heart," a sentiment which Scrooge shares.
The pair continue their journey through Scrooge's past. After seeing Belle, Scrooge's former fiancée, Scrooge asks the ghost to take him away from these memories, to which the ghost replies:
"I told you these were shadows of the things that have been,'' said the Ghost. "That they are what they are, do not blame me!''
Here, the ghost tells Scrooge something of crucial importance: that the present-day Scrooge is the product of these early experiences and that the only way to heal the pain of the past is to reform today. This message is so powerful that it begins the process of transformation in Scrooge, forcing him to accept how his actions have impacted the lives of others. This, then, is the foundation of Scrooge's reformation, which is steadily developed over his next two encounters.