The Shipping News Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 50 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Shipping News.
This section contains 618 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Shipping News Summary & Study Guide Description

The Shipping News Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx.

The Shipping News is a story about Quoyle, a thirty-six-year-old man with low self-esteem and little self-motivation. Not knowing what he wants to do with his life, he accepts a job as a newspaper journalist in his small hometown of Mockingburg in upstate New York. Quoyle marries the first woman to give him any attention and goes on to have a very destructive marriage. His wife Petal hates herself, hates Quoyle, and even hates their two daughters. She spends most of her time drinking and looking for love in the beds of various men. Quoyle loves her endlessly and maintains his devotion to her, their marriage, and their daughters. He is finally freed from the relationship when she dies in a tragic car accident with one of her lovers.

Quoyle's aunt comes to help out with the children following Petal's death and talks Quoyle into moving away for a fresh start. They move to the family's ancestral home in Killick-Claw, Newfoundland. Quoyle arrives at their new home a grieving, isolated, beaten down man whose never done much with his life because he's always been told he can't do anything right. He's able to get a job at the local newspaper and ironically is assigned to cover car crashes. The family's home needs a great deal of work, having been vacant for over forty years and Quoyle is forced to learn and accomplish home improvement projects right away. His first task is to finish roofing the house. Having never been up on a roof, on a ladder that high, or worked with shingles, Quoyle feels some pride and accomplishment when he finishes the roof. At work he begins to become friends with his colleagues and makes friends with Dennis, the son of his boss and carpenter that helps him ready his home to live in.

In New York Quoyle had only one friend, who moved away, so having a handful of friends becomes very meaningful to him. As time goes on, Quoyle is assigned to cover the shipping news, by reporting what ships are in port. He comes up with the idea to write profiles of some of the noteworthy ships; he gets a great response and is assigned a regular column. He also meets a local woman, Wavey, whom he is attracted to but both he and she have been widowed by cheating spouses. The ghosts of relationships past prevent them from any true closeness, although they enjoy each other's company. Quoyle begins his internal struggle wondering what love is and if he can ever experience it again after what happened with Petal.

Quoyle, his Aunt, and his two daughters make friends, become a part of the community and for the first time in his life Quoyle feels acceptance, contentment, and even small periods of joy. He learns to fish, drive a boat, and various other new things that help him become more and more a Newfoundlander. After the departure of the managing editor at the paper, Quoyle is promoted to the position, much to his surprise. However, he is haunted by the past, both by his heartbreaking personal one and by the generations of Quoyle's who lived in Killick-Claw before him, who pillaged all they could until they were driven from the town. Not until Quoyle confronts his past and his heritage is he truly able to make a future for himself and his daughters. Once he sees the past and his relationship with Petal for what it really was, he is able to move on and declare his love to Wavey and marry her. He discovers that loving again is possible and that it does not have to include pain and destruction.

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This section contains 618 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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