The Shipping News

by Annie Proulx

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Chapters 10-12 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 685

When Quoyle comes home from work, he finds his Aunt Agnis sitting in the motel room with her coat on. On a chair next to her is a bundle covered in a sheet. She tells him that her dog, Warren, has died. She has sent the girls to the carpenter’s house to play with his daughters and so they will not have to go through yet another tragedy. She also tells him that the carpenter, Dennis, has said the house can be livable in a couple of weeks if Quoyle helps him. When Nutbeem comes by to talk, Agnis goes off by herself and buries her dog at sea.

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Nutbeem finishes a story that Quoyle first heard from Jack Buggit about Jack’s son, who is Dennis the carpenter. Jack had lost a son in the sea and swore he would not lose another. So he forbade Dennis from becoming a fisherman. However, that was all Dennis wanted to do. One day Dennis hired onto a ship that ran into a terrible storm that cracked the boat in two. A few crew members were found, but Dennis was presumed dead. However, Jack swore his son was alive and took out his own boat to find him. His intuitions were correct. Dennis’s arms were both broken but he was still alive. Once Jack got Dennis back on land, he cursed his son and told him if he ever stepped foot on another boat, he would personally drown him. The father and son have not spoken to one another since.

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Agnis buys a truck and tells Quoyle that the house is ready for them to move in. The road has been fixed, there is a dock for Quoyle’s boat, and an outhouse has been built. Agnis arrives at the house first. She takes her brother’s (Quoyle’s father’s) ashes and dumps them into the outdoor toilet and pees on them. She never liked her brother.

The next day, Dennis has to leave early. He has been tiling the roof and asks if Quoyle could finish the job. There is a rainstorm coming in. Quoyle, who is afraid of heights, slowly climbs up to the steeply slanted roof of the two-story building. He looks around and enjoys the view, but he does not feel confident about climbing onto the roof. Dennis had nailed a board across as a ledge for his feet to press against. Quoyle slowly moves off the ladder. To his surprise, he finds the work exhilarating. Just as he is about to finish the job, he hears Bunny’s voice calling to him. When he turns in the direction of the sound, he sees her at the top of the ladder, about to place her feet on the roof. He knows she is to young to understand balancing herself on the sloped roof; she will fall if she moves any farther. He quietly tells her to stay where she is, but he knows how defiant she can be. He inches toward her and finally grabs her. He squeezes her so tightly she can hardly breathe as he carries her down.

Having proven himself on the roof, Quoyle decides he is ready to take his boat out. He sets the motor in place and slowly pushes away from the shore. He does all right until he turns; the wave from the wake floods the boat. He has nothing to bale with, so he turns back to the dock. When Quoyle goes in to work, he talks to Nutbeem, who is a sailor. Nutbeem finds out that Quoyle has no safety provisions and has not even registered his boat with the Coast Guard. He chastises Quoyle and gives him a list of provisions he must buy. The next time Dennis comes to the house, he looks at Quoyle’s boat to see if he can make it more water-worthy. Dennis says Quoyle would spend almost as much money trying to fix the boat as he would on a new one. He recommends that Quoyle go to a boat maker and buy one.

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Chapters 7-9 Summary

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Chapters 13-15 Summary