Why is the little girl with the doll important in A Christmas Carol?

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The Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge his former girlfriend, Belle, as she looked many years after their relationship ended, about seven years prior to the start of the text. Belle has married, and she is now a "comely matron" with many children of her own. Though she does not live in the lap of luxury, Belle's home is quite comfortable and warm, and her children are lovely and rowdy creatures. The narrator confesses his own attraction to Belle's beauty and his near-envy of the children, who can take such freedoms with her as to touch her hair, put their arms around her waist, and so on. He says:

I should have liked, I do confess, to have had the lightest licence of a child, and yet to have been man enough to know its value.

In other words, then, Belle's children can be so close to her, and their contact with her is so innocent and loving that the narrator wishes he could treat her similarly. The sight of her children inspires regret within Scrooge. When Belle's husband returns home with a porter carrying armloads of gifts, someone makes the:

terrible announcement that the baby had been taken in the act of putting a doll's frying pan into his mouth and was more than suspected of having swallowed a fictitious turkey, glued on a wooden platter! The immense relief of finding this a false alarm!

Belle's life is chaotic, but it is so full, and she is obviously happy. Her baby and the doll are just the trappings and symbols of how different her life is from Scrooge's and, though it is not calm by any means, it is loving and good. People care for one another and take care of each other. It is very unlike Scrooge's own isolation.

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