In the short story, “A Little Cloud” by James Joyce we see the use of the character foil technique. Ignatius Gallaher acts as a character foil for Little Chandler in the story. Meaning, if one were to look at Gallaher’s traits, the traits of Chandler would be heightened due to this technique. We see this through the author’s use of physical traits, character traits, and the characters values and beliefs. .
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The author is able to create a very vivid picture of both Gallaher and Chandler, and we see that the two are very different from each other physically. Gallaher’s character is a very heavy man with a look of unhealthy pallor whereas Little Chandler is a very refined man just under the average male stature. Chandler wears a moustache and has fine, silken hair and Gallaher is balding but clean-shaven. Gallaher is described as having a very heavy and pale face, long and shapeless lips with no hint of colour in them, and bluish eyes that were somewhat able to relieve his shabby look. The author describes Chandler as having a very fragile frame, small white hands displaying his perfect nails, and a mouth lined with childish white teeth. Clearly the author has used the physical traits of the two characters to create a contrast between them.
The development of contrasting character traits also shows us how the author uses this technique. Gallaher is portrayed as a very loud person, with a bold attitude, and a person who is always looking for excitement, sometimes of the wrong sort. Some people might say that he “drinks freely” and “borrows money on all sides”. Chandler thinks of him as “inferior in birth and education”. Even so, nobody denies him talent. They find him impressive and one cannot help but admire him. Hiss braggart attitude creates an air of contentment around him. Chandler, on the other hand is a very sad and quiet man. His financial standing leads him into a gentle melancholy because he feels that he is able to achieve much more for himself.
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