(Revised on Dec. 24th)
Little Chandler’s Attitude to the City Dublin
In the short story “A Little Cloud” by James Joyce (1882-1941), the protagonist Little Chandler is portraited as a sensitive and cowardly man, while the city Dublin is described as a lifeless and dull place, both showing signs of paralysis. Before Little Chandler meets his old friend, the writer follows his walk through the city and draws the pictures of several scenes from Little Chandler’s view. Along with these pictures that provide the readers with a general impression of the settings, the writer also intends to reveal Little Chandler’s attitudes toward the surroundings. Through analysis, we may find that Little Chandler holds a complex attitude of dislike, fear and anticipation of excitement toward the city Dublin.
First, Little Chandler dislikes the dullness of Dublin. Looking at the scene of sunset outside his workplace where nurses and old men looked numbed, he developed a gentle melancholy. The reaction showed his disappointment of the ordinary life around him and made him sigh of his mediocre fortune. Later, when he walked down Henrietta Street, he did not pay attention to the grimy children by the street. Little Chandler used to dislike them as he hated the ordinary and boring life of the whole Dublin, yet he was too busy on the way meeting his old friend to care about them (Wang 1185). His contempt to these children reflected his apathy to the decrepit part of the city, and indicated his eagerness to meet with his friend in order to shortly escape from the dreary routine. Little Chandler didn’t hide his impatience of bearing the dissatisfactory life in Dublin.
However, due to the fear of unfamiliarity, Little Chandler hesitates to attach himself to the decent and vibrant life of Dublin. As it is commented, the ambivalence attitude combined by complacency and melancholy of the protagonist in the story always conflicts against the settings in a disharmonious way (Tong & Liu 94). He nervously entered Corless’s, a restaurant for the upper-class, which was supposed to be the relatively brighter side of the city. Little Chandler knew about the luxurious service, but before this meeting he seldom visited the place. Not used to a life beyond his usual routine, Little Chandler felt uneasy to face with the colorful life which he should have longed for. Another example that confirms his fear of the unfamiliar part of the city is Little Chandler’s embarrassed experience of buying a blouse for his wife. Readers might be confused by the excessive timidity shown in an adult male in a shop, yet it is understandable for Little Chandler to step into the field that is strange to him. His refusal and shyness to fit in the lively corners of the city results from his worry and fear.
Finally, Little Chandler sought for excitement in the city, perhaps as a response to the mixed feeling of dislike and fear mentioned above. By making his way through the dark and remote streets, Little Chandler stimulated his nerves and amused himself. His imagination allowed him to ignore the connection between the physical reality of the city and himself (Hua 33). Day by day, he walked past the same streets in the morning, and at night he ventured into the sinister paths as if it was a challenge to the dullness of the city. However, he usually ended up truly frightening himself instead of getting refreshed, which is similar to his way of thinking that traps him into mediocrity and also suggests the following failure of his poet dream (Xu & Zhang 138). Walking in the darkness could be considered as a simple way for Little Chandler to fulfil his anticipation of a thrilling journey within the city.
In conclusion, examining Little Chandler’s attitude toward Dublin, it is noticed that he hates the spiritless and dreary mood of the city. Yet due to his weakness, he is afraid to tread over it and embraces the vivid sides. Though he attempts to invent some entertainment around, there is little chance for Little Chandler to escape from the sluggish rhythm of Dublin before the meeting with his old friend. Little Chandler’s opinion and reaction to Dublin contributes to our understanding of his characteristics and predicament.
The Unhappy Frog in the Well: Little Chandler's attitude to the city Dublin
In the short story "A Little Cloud" by James Joyce (1882-1941), the protagonist Little Chandler is portraited as a helpless coward, while the city Dublin is described as a lifeless and dull city, both showing signs of paralysis. Before Little Chandler meets his old friend, the writer follows his walk through the city and draws the pictures of several scenes from Little Chandler's view, which provides the readers with a detailed impression of the settings, and also reveals Little Chandler's own attitudes toward his hometown, including dislike, fear and the attempt to seek excitement.
Little Chandler was obviously dissatisfied with the dullness of Dublin in the first place. Watching at the scene of sunset outside his workplace, he became sad and developed a gentle melancholy, possibly as a result of his consistent disappointment of the ordinary life around him, which led to his sigh of his fortune. Later he walked down Henrietta Street ignoring the grimy children, yet as Wang remarked,” Little Chandler used to dislike them as he hates the ordinary and boring life of the whole Dublin, yet he was too busy on the way meeting his old friend to care about them.” (Wang, 1983), indicating that he had become apathetic to the ugly side of the city.
However, Little Chandler at the same time hesitated to face with the decent and noisy life of the city. He nervously entered Corless's, which was supposed to be the opposite side of the city as a restaurant for the upper-class. Little Chandler knew about the luxurious service in it, but seldom turned to look at it before this meeting. Not used to the life beyond his ordinary routine, Little Chandler felt uneasy even faced with a colorful life which he should have longed for, which exposed his fear of the unfamiliar side of the city, and also echoed his terrible experience of buying a spouse for his wife.
Influenced by the mixture of dislike and fear, Little Chandler sought for excitement in the city by courting his fear in the darkest streets only to get alarmed. He walked past the same streets as he lived through the dullness day by day, and ventured into the strange routes as an action of challenge to the dullness, but ended up draining himself to a leaf instead of getting refreshed or inspired, which is “similar to his way of thinking that traps him into mediocrity and also suggests the following failure of his poet dream.” (Xu & Zhang, 2017)
As Tong & Liu (2012) commented, “The ambivalence attitude combined by complacency and melancholy of the protagonist in the story always conflicts against the settings in a disharmonious way.” From Little Chandler's attitude toward the city, it could be concluded that Little Chandler hated the dreary part of the city yet was unable to tread over it due to his weakness. Like a frog in the well, Little Chandler in Dublin could hardly escape from it even though he believed in the existence of the outside world.