A Little Cloud is about a man named Chandler, who visits his friend Gallagher in America eight years after Chandler moves to London. Chandler is a married man and a father who has earned the name “Little Chandler” due to his small and delicate demeanor. Meeting with his friend in a local bar, Chandler is both pleased and displeased with the actions of his friend. While acknowledging his friend’s successful literary career he nonetheless was “beginning to feel somewhat disillusioned. Gallagher’s accent and way of expressing himself did not please him. ” (71).
The story contrasts Little Chandler’s dissatisfaction and stagnant existence with his friend’s exciting writing career abroad filled with exotic cities and exciting women. Because Little Chandler dreams of being in America, away from his life of domestic coldness, employment stagnation, and personal self-pity, he can feel nothing but jealousy towards his friend who seemingly has everything he ever dreamed of. He reflects on the poorness of his domestic life with his wife and friend when he states that he looks “coldly into the eyes of the photograph [of him and his wife] and they answered coldly” (78).
This quote implies the cold relationship him and his wife had. As if to add to his problematic thoughts, when he arrives home his wife punishes him for forgetting to buy coffee by requiring him to watch his young child. While he is engaged in baby-sitting he reflects on his meeting with his friend and, using his friends life and career as a sort of barometer, begins to question himself and his marriage and his life. He feels cheated by the world since Gallagher can succeed and he cannot, and so once again the friend provides a measure with which to judge himself against.
“… and tears of remorse started to his eyes” (81), implying he is filled with self-pity and is stuck in this world that he has made whether he likes it or not. Just then the baby starts crying, adding to the burdens Little Chandler feels he has and the sorrows of his life. Reading a passage from Byron does not help the situation, as the reading awakens in him his long abandoned desire for a writing career. His wife returns home, however, and as she takes the screaming child from him to comfort it Little Chandler feels sorry for his dream of flight.
The story concludes with him realizing that his aspirations to leave his present life and write for a living are shallow and self-indulgent, so he resolves to accept his life of dissatisfaction and stagnation and to fact his own shortcomings with as much grace as possible. The main characters in Eveline and A Little Cloud share feelings of emotional paralysis and self-doubt. Although Frank encourages Eveline and Gallagher influences Chandler both main characters create an unattainable dream for them, which ironically motivates their ultimate refusal to grasp whatever opportunity exists through their diffidence and a horror of the unknown.
Eveline and Little Chandler both feel as though they can not get out of this world, and the lives, that they have. Eveline wants to go out but she chooses continues unhappiness since this scares her less than her feelings for Frank the unsure nature of their relationship. Eveline longs to be married and in love, while Little Chandler desires to be a poet. While stating that “If you want to succeed you had to go away” (68), Little Chandler nonetheless holds himself back because he doesn’t think he can make it, just like Eveline doesn’t think she’s emotionally strong enough to leave behind all she ever knew.
As much as they dislike the family they have at home and the future it holds for them, restraint and fear of change ultimately prevents them from making the proverbial “leap” into the unknown and thus rejecting a life-altering decision. By refusing to embark on a course of action that would fundamental change their lives in ways impossible to predict, even when it could result in an infinitely better way of life than that which they had, they condemn themselves to lives of unhappy stagnation, with little possibility of improvement.