A Little Cloud

From Dubliners by James Joyce

Nigelleaney

--

Photo by Rob Csaszar on Unsplash

A Little Cloud is the next short story in James Joyces’s collection, Dubliners, published in 1914.

It is written in the third person, point of view of Little Chandler, who works as a clerk in the city of Dublin. The epithet to his name reveals how he is perceived by others and himself.

Little Chandler has arranged to meet his old friend, Ignatius Gallaher, who is returning to his home city for a fleeting visit after leaving eight years ago to pursue a career in journalism in London. As Chandler’s walk through Dublin’s streets are detailed on his way to their meeting, he contrasts Gallaher’s success to his own blighted writing aspirations as a wannabe poet and the small life he has inhabited, characterised by feelings of paralysis and entrapment. The restraints on fulfilling his own ambitions he blames on the city, compared to the immoral yet passion-filled vibrancy of Paris and London, and his domestic situation as defined by his wife and small child. Yet he still has fantasies of writing his own book of poems. However, he never seems to write anything and his introverted nature makes him even unable to read aloud a book of poems to his wife.

During his meeting with Gallaher we start to question the nature of his friend’s success. The conversation reveals Gallaher to be a shallow braggart who is presumptuous and patronising towards Little Chandler and others around him. It is difficult to see how Little Chandler could be envious or wish to emulate such a person. But as in most cases of envy, Chandler’s is, perhaps, selective. He envies Gallaher’s worldliness, his rich and varied experiences contrasted with his own parochial life. When the conversation switches to his own situation he becomes uncomfortable. Gallaher scoffs at the idea of one day marrying, expressing contempt for being satisfied by one woman — and so implying contempt for Chandler. His abject shallowness is revealed by

I mean to marry money

Chandler returns homes after forgetting his wife ‘s request to shop for coffee. His wife leaves him with the baby while she goes to the local shop. Chandler reviews the evening with Gallaher and their conversation while looking at a photo of his wife. Compared to the passionate liaisons his friend has boasted about, his…

--

--

Nigelleaney

Recently retired and completed MA in creative writing. Trying for the writer’s life with no more excuses about the day job. Named top writer in music.