At the very end of “A Little Cloud,” Little Chandler’s brief outburst highlights his capacity for cruelty, and the effects that unfulfilled aspirations can have on personal relationships. As a younger man, Little Chandler chose a secure domestic life over pursuing a literary career and trying his luck abroad. Seeing his friend Gallaher live so freely as a successful journalist in London is too much for Little Chandler to handle. Listening to Gallaher’s stories about bachelor life in Europe, Little Chandler “felt acutely the contrast between his own life and his friend’s, and it seemed to him unjust.” The envy sours his mood, and he wants an opportunity “to vindicate himself in some way, to assert his manhood.”
Too timid to “assert his manhood” with Gallaher, this pent-up resentment follows him home, causing him to curse his own timidity, his marriage, and his insular, domestic life. As his infant son cries in his arms, Little Chandler loses his temper and shouts fiercely at perhaps the only person in his reach smaller than him. Though the outburst is brief and Little Chandler quickly regrets it, the image of an adult man taking his disillusionment and frustration out on something so helpless is still a bone-chilling picture of cruelty, and a clear representation of the origins of abuse in many Dubliners’ lives.