A Little Cloud by James Joyce

Little Chandler is still young and has his entire life before him. This story shows his thoughts on what he wishes to gain from his life and how an outside influence can change his outlook on everything. Just as the title suggests, a little cloud sets in over Little Chandler’s life as he begins to envy his friend and compare his own life to his. Throughout the story Joyce uses three different narrative voices in order to convey Little Chandler’s inner thoughts, his influences, and his reasons for why he has become so unsatisfied with his life.
The story begins describing Little Chandler as he finishes up a day of work. This third -person omniscient narrative allows the reader to see inside Little Chandler’s mind as he contemplates the day and grows excited at the prospect of meeting an old friend for drinks when the work day is over. Even from the beginning, the narrator lets the reader know that deep down Little Chandler is not a happy soul. For instance the narrator says, "He watched the scene and thought of life. and (as always happened when he thought of life) he became sad. A gentle melancholy took possession of him. He felt how useless it was to struggle against fortune, this being the burden of wisdom which the ages had bequeathed to him (Joyce). These unsettling thoughts would not be available to the reader if it were not for this third person narrative and the story would not have the same meaning and depth if these inner thoughts of Little Chandler were surpassed by the reader. What makes the narration so interesting is that it shows how a person can have everything that they desire and still be unhappy. Little Chandler has a good job, a wife, a new baby boy, and obviously a good friend in Gallaher. Yet even with all of these things he finds fault with his life. constantly comparing himself to his friend and wishing his life were more similar to his.
These narrations describing Little Chandler’s dissatisfaction only grow in weariness when Ignatius Gallaher enters the story. Gallaher is Little Chandler’s long time friend, and from the descriptions in the story the reader can assume that the two grew up together. The influence that Gallaher has on Little Chandler helps the reader to better understand why Little Chandler has grown so weary of his mundane life. Little Chandler already feels inferior to his friend because he feels that Gallaher has become a successful business man with knowledge of the world. When Gallaher tells him, "I see you haven’t changed an atom. You’re the very same serious person that used to lecture me on Sunday mornings when I had a sore head and a fur on my tongue. You’d want to knock about a bit in the world" (Joyce) Little Chandler’s mood goes from gloomy to downright depressed.
The third narrative that Joyce employs is that of Little Chandler’s wife Annie. Annie seems to have grown tired of Little Chandler’s gloominess and his dissatisfaction with his life has begun to put a stain on their marriage. To his wife it seems as though Little Chandler can not do anything right. For example: Little Chandler had been so distracted all day with his thoughts of inadequacy and excitement to meet with Gallaher, that he forgets to pick up some much needed groceries. Not only can he not please his wife, he also cannot keep the baby from crying. The distain and weariness his wife feels towards him is revealed when she shouts, "What have you done to him" (Joyce).
When reading this story it is made obvious