Joyce Essay Rough Draft

A Little Cloud Essay


Marcus O’Hara

Professor David Lipscomb

Writing 015

26 February 2015

The True Storm in “A Little Cloud”

Background: Will be added once everything else is mostly done so that it is relevant to the argument at hand rather than a simple information dump

A Little Cloud’s” ending ambiguity serves a dual purpose. Its low profile is meant to force the reader to focus on the details that hint at Little Chandler’s final mindset and thus on the part of the story that is truly important: Chandler’s inner conflict.

The ending of “A Little Cloud” is misleading because of the all of the support it supplies for a definite conclusion. There is an overwhelming amount of information supporting the notion that Little Chandler’s “tears of remorse” are directed towards his own life (Joyce). Little Chandler’s admiration and envy of Gallaher are always present. Gallaher always had “something… that impressed you in spite of yourself” (Joyce). He’s “been to the Moulin Rouge[,]… to all the Bohemain cafes. Hot stuff! Not for a pious chap like [Chandler]” (Joyce). Gallaher’s life is exciting and exotic, and Chandler cannot help but be impressed and jealous of his old friend. Gallaher is put on a pedestal as a sort of celebrity by Chandler, whose own life is mundane. Chandler has a wife, a son, and a steady job. He loves poetry and wished to share it with his wife, but his “shyness… always held him back” (Joyce). Little Chandler holds a “poet’s soul” (Joyce) and yearns for a mere fraction of Gallaher’s glow, but he cannot escape his mediocrity. Mary Lazar goes as far as saying that “most Joyceans insist that [Chandler] cries out of self-pity” (Lazar). Going by Lazar’s words, most scholars agree that Chandler is “paralyzed… and his ‘epiphany’ … is egocentric… [and he] will suffer… [but] never produce” (Lazar). In short, Chandler cries at the end because he realizes that he hates his life but can never change it, that he will always be stuck in the comfort of misery. Putting what the scholars believe aside, however, it is easy to make the opposite case.

Scholars may say that Littler Chandler cries because he believes his life has been wasted, but it is equally plausible to say that Chandler is crying because he regrets harming his son and harboring envious thoughts. Chandler may seem to worship Gallaher and believe that he can do no wrong, but on closer inspection he may not truly idolize Gallaher, only the idea of Gallaher. Little Chandler views Gallaher as a celebrity-like figure. He fawns over Gallaher’s success and adventures in anticipation, but once he converses with Gallaher his illusion fades. He notices that “There was something vulgar in his friend which he had not noticed before” (Joyce). He sees that Gallaher is losing his hair and that his skin is pale, where as Chandler is described as having perfect teeth and as a very clean and orderly person, showing that Chandler is in good health and that Gallaher’s health is relatively poor (Joyce). After meeting his old friend, he begins to see that Gallaher’s lifestyle may not actually be as wonderful as it seemed. On top of his disillusionment, Chandler holds his wife and son above Gallaher when Gallaher is boasting about his adventures. Chandler asserts his humble accomplishment, saying that Gallaher will “put his head in the sack… like everyone else if [he] can find the girl” (Joyce). This is the first time Chandler notes that he has something that Gallaher does not. He is taking pride in his own accomplishments because he is subconsciously realizing that Gallaher’s life is not what he truly desires. During his interactions with Gallaher, despite his subconscious disillusionment with him, Chandler still continues to think of him in high regard. That is why his tears of remorse are relevant. After lamenting his life decisions and making his son cry, Chandler realizes what his subconscious was telling him. His tears are remorseful because he realizes he was foolish and sees that his family is more important to him than Gallaher’s flashy lifestyle. But why is there so much evidence supporting both interpretations of the ending? Simple. The ending is left to the reader decide because it is ultimately unimportant.

The ending of “A Little Cloud” is left ambiguous because it is irrelevant to what Joyce wants the readers to ponder. Compared to the rest of the story, the conclusion is markedly abrupt. It seems out of place because the end of a story is usually what the reader ponders after finishing a story. But the ending of “A Little Cloud” is too sudden to have the reader’s thoughts focused exclusively on it. Instead of the ending, they drift towards the bulk of the story: Little Chandler’s interaction with Gallaher. This leads to one conclusion, that the focus is intended to be on Little Chandler and Gallaher’s exchange. Unfortunately, “’A Little Cloud’ has not generated significant critical debate[,]… and scholars have generally agreed that the ineffectual protagonist abuses his infant son and refuses to take responsibility for his own shortcomings” (Lazar). Scholars seem to hold the belief that the ending is an important part of the story, but I believe it is not important at all. It may invite discussion, but that discussion is relatively shallow. Is Chandler remorseful because he realizes his life has been wasted or is he remorseful because his thoughts and actions were foolish? The question is unremarkable, and more importantly it does not give much back to the reader who spent his/her time on the story. I say that the true importance of the story and the question it wishes to ask the reader are contained in the focus of the story, Chandler’s meeting with Gallaher.

The message of “A Little Cloud” revolves around coming to terms with one’s own life and discovering what one’s heart desires. At the beginning of the story, Little Chandler is described as “melancholic, ‘but it [is] a melancholy tempered by recurrences of faith and resignation and simple joy’” (Lazar). Melancholy is a term associated with depression and sadness, but it can also be defined as sober thoughtfulness or pensiveness. I believe that although Little Chandler displays some characteristics of he sad definition of melancholy, his character is more closely aligned with the pensive definition. Little Chandler seems to be thoroughly absorbed in his thoughts, shown in the beginning when he is building up his anticipation for meeting Gallaher, in the middle with his passing thoughts of Gallaher and his consciousness of his own words and actions, and at the end when he is consumed with worry. Furthermore, his thoughts are clearly sober for even in his dreams he is realistic noting that “[His poetry] would never be popular… He could not sway the crowd but he may appeal to a little circle of kindred minds” (Joyce). With all of his musings and worries, Chandler is a more thoughtful and reflective character than a sad one. He is swept in by Gallaher’s grandeur and loses sight of himself. Little Chandler’s thoughts and actions are meant to reflect those of the reader. Few people are completely satisfied by their lives. Everyone has regrets over mistakes made and their life choices. Little Chandler is an embodiment of those regrets of the past and worries of the future, which is why he reflects on his past so greatly and why he is so afraid his future will amount to nothing. Little Chandler is a struggle that most people, especially younger people face. Little Chandler’s age is not explicitly stated, but his timidness, “little” stature, and fretfulness are all qualities that many adolescents have. Like any child, Little Chandler is initially enamored with a gaudy lifestyle. As the story “ages” so does Little Chandler. Before his meeting with Gallaher, Little Chandler is a prepubescent boy. During his conversation with Gallaher, Chandler ages through his teenage years, holding on to some of his childish naivete but slowly maturing and realizing what he desires. At the very end, Little Chandler is finally an adult. He is looking back regretfully on his foolishness and coming to terms with what he truly wants and needs. The middle of the story is the focus because it is where Little Chandler does the brunt of his learning and begins to see what he truly desires. The ending completes Little Chandler’s revelation while still remaining ambiguous. Chandler’s realizations through his “aging” can still be interpreted as bemoaning his miserable life or regretting his recent actions, but the most important part, his journey towards his revelation remains the same no matter how the reader chooses to interpret his cry at the end. Whether he still wants Gallaher’s glamourous life or if he sees that his current life is all he needs, he has still come to terms with his life and what he wants.

Conclusion paragraph: I’m holding off on this until for after the peer reviews because it is so dependent on the body paragraphs that if drastic changes are made it will have to be completely rewritten. I also have not done the works cited page yet and I will touch up my citations for the final draft

Student Essay They Say I Say

In her essay “The Illusions of Youth,” Brittany Logan argues that the characters in Dubliners who drop their illusions of love advance as people, unlike the characters who stagnate under their notions of the good life. She gives much attention to Eveline, using her decision to remain in Dublin as evidence of Eveline’s disillusionment with the life she would have with Frank.

I agree with Ms. Logan’s main point, but I do not believe that Eveline stays because she becomes disillusioned, I believe she remains because she is a passive person and cannot decide what she wants for herself. Her life in Dublin with her father may not be the most pleasant, but it it what she knows and is comfortable with. She has no idea what Buenos Aires and her life with Frank will be like, so she is afraid to move forward with him and stays behind. She doesn’t come to a sudden realization that her life with Frank will be miserable and that she is better off at home, she is simply seized by a fear of the unknown and held back by the comfort of misery and monotony.

Eveline’s defining trait is her passiveness, so she would never be proactive enough to make a decision for herself. In fact, I believe that she is frozen in place because she cannot make a decision for herself. She allowed herself to be in the backdrop her whole entire life, simply watching her family interact around her, afraid of acting for herself, of thinking for herself. Once Frank comes along it isn’t any different. She is still going with the flow, allowing herself to be swept in by him. She becomes frozen because she is being forced to choose her life for herself, a decision of a greater magnitude than her passive nature can handle, not because she realizes that her life won’t be good with Frank.

Meandering Reflection

At three o’clock in the morning my worries have a tendency to rear their ugly heads. As my homework bores me, sleep flees while my anxieties stand their ground. I have no idea what I want, only what I don’t. I don’t want to be miserable. I don’t want to be broke. One would think that avoiding two simple things would be easy, yet far too often I find myself brooding over the way things can go wrong as I struggle to see myself filling any role I fancy. When I was younger I always imagined myself as an engineer or a scientist, and I stuck with that image in high school. I came to Georgetown as a physics major, but became disillusioned quickly. I found the class dull, the textbook useless, and the assignments agonizing. So here I am one semester later. I switched over to math, and find myself repeating the same cycle, only this time with statistics instead of physics. I loved math in high school and went all the way through multivariable calculus there, yet here I am, baffled by a field that is supposedly much simpler. Despite my best effort to stay positive I find my confidence crumbling. Am I a defeatist? Maybe. A masochist? Ha! That might make this a little more enjoyable. Insecure? Aren’t we all, at least a little? After having a clear idea of what I expected out of college and life for as long as I can remember, it’s really scary to see everything play out differently than I imagined. I’m married to the idea that STEM equals success, but sometimes when I’m in class or doing homework every cell in my body screams for divorce. When I think of other fields I draw just as much of a blank. English? Well, I never hated writing, but do I really want to spend the rest of my life doing only that? Foreign languages? Sure, I think they’re interesting, but how the hell am I going to make a living out of knowing how to speak another language or two? Environmental studies? Sounds appealing, but it means starting back at square one, and if I end up being worse off in terms of schoolwork there won’t be time to look for anything else. In my world, everything has it’s place. My laptop goes in the same spot after class every day, I have scheduled times for eating, for doing laundry, for leisure, for exercise, and for extracurriculars. Yet even when everything is orderly and in its place, I can’t seem to decide where mine is. Perhaps that’s why I became so invested in Little Chandler’s longings, and Eveline’s uncertainty, and Gabriel’s emotions. They all want something out of life, and I can’t help but share some of their fears and desires. I know I’m only a freshman, and that I’m getting way ahead of myself worrying about all of these problems that may never come to be, but I can’t help it. I’ve always been a worrier, a planner, and overly meticulous, and I can’t magically wish those traits away. I hope that I can lighten up, lower my expectations, improve my bad habits, and be a little more positive. After all, everything in the past has worked out one way or another, so there’s no reason that the future won’t as well.

Gut Reaction To “The Dead”

Despite taking place in a different country and in a different time, “The Dead” felt familiar to me. I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the gathering in the story and my own family gatherings. The relative who loves the sound of her own voice, the older folks reminiscing about the past and gushing over their children’s accomplishments, the disagreeable teenager, the charming uncle, and that one relative who brings politics into everything. The people in “The Dead” may not have all been related, but they felt just like my family. I would say the story made me feel homesick, but that’s not quite accurate. A melancholy sense of nostalgia perhaps? Gabriel brought the story even closer, with that familiar vortex of emotion swallowing him when he is in the company of the people he knows, loves, and is a little too familiar with. His desire to one up Ms. Ivors feels just like my desire to prove my irritating cousin and her husband wrong. They always try to manipulate the conversation and force what they believe is right on me, so Gabriel’s annoyance with Ms. Ivors, though a little different in nature, is a feeling I understand all too well. Honestly, once I finished the story I was left with both the desire to see my whole family right now and the desire to stay away from them for a long while. It’s kind of funny that the same group of people can evoke such conflicting feelings, but I’m sure everyone feels the same way, at least in part.

A Little Cloud – Tears of Remorse

“—It’s nothing . . . He . . . he began to cry . . . tears of remorse started to his eyes” (p. 85)

This passage was most interesting to me because of the deliberate vagueness behind it. Little Chandler clearly regrets something, as shown by the shame in his cheeks and tears in his eyes, but the cause of his shame is unclear. He could be ashamed for being so envious of Gallaher and for scaring his son, but it is also possible that the shame and tears are there because he feels that his life has not amounted to anything substantial and that he is trapped in mediocrity. He could be seeing how powerless he is; he was unable to pursue his desire to be a poet, unable to be an impressive man like Gallaher, not even able to stop his own son from crying. When he was speaking with Gallaher his wife and son were the two things he tried to hold above his friend, but Gallaher immediately brushed Little Chandler’s pride off by saying he could marry into money any time he desired. However, Little Chandler’s remorse and shame are just as likely to be directed towards his reaction to Gallaher and his feelings of regret. When speaking to Gallaher about his wife and son he was blushing; his pride in his family was evident. He could be lamenting  how foolish his thinking was and regretting angering his wife and scaring his son, seeing that his envy was misplaced and that he is leading a good, modest life. I believe that the vagueness is there to leave it up to the reader to decide Little Chandler’s true feelings.


Dubliners Sentence

The strangest sentence to me by far was “Her companionship was like a warm soil about an exotic,” from A Painful Case. The sentence feels very strange to me and I do not fully understand what it is trying to convey. It almost feels incomplete to me, like a word is missing, or perhaps it is an old colloquialism I am unfamiliar with, but either way it left me baffled.

Gary Hart and Matt Bai

After reading both the book and the New York Times article, the first thing I noticed was how much exposition had been slashed away. In the first chapter Matt Bai went into far greater detail when describing why he was meeting with Gary Hart again, along with the feelings he had and what the surrounding was like. The Article touched upon almost everything that was in the first chapter, but everything was condensed and  it placed greater emphasis on the scandal, whereas the book focused on the scandal, Matt Bai’s personal feelings, and on Gary Hart’s personal life and feelings. I feel that the book was as much about Matt Bai wrestling with his feelings about what transpired as it was about the changes in the media that the scandal set in motion, something I feel that the article did not really convey.

My question for Matt Bai is as follows: John Edwards, Bill Clinton, and Gary Hart are three of the big names that come up when we think about major political scandals for the Democratic Party. Do you think that Bill Clinton got off too easily or that Edwards was undeserving of all of the flak he took, and would you say their scandals were more or less worthy of punishment than Hart’s?