The Shipping News

by Annie Proulx

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Chapters 25-26 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 670

The oil industry is discussed. Once Newfoundland relied on the fishing industry, but that is mostly just history now. An oil deposit has been discovered off the shores of Newfoundland, and the newspaper staff discusses the potential the discovery holds for the people of Newfoundland. Billy Pretty, Tert Card, Nutbeem, and Quoyle are having breakfast at a local diner. They are discussing the oil deposit, which is called The McGonigle. Tert Card believes the oil is going to bring the Golden Days back for Newfoundlanders.

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Billy Pretty is not as optimistic. Even if the oil does come in, Pretty says, most of the jobs are going to go to those on Canada’s mainland. He cannot imagine why these jobs would be given to the islanders. Most of the profits, Pretty believes, will go to the international oil companies. What Newfoundland will receive in return, Pretty adds, are problems with alcoholism and crime. Pretty renews his premise that in the old days, people stuck together and took care of their own. Nowadays, Pretty complains, each man acts for himself.

Tert Card, on the other hand, is so convinced that the oil industry is going to take over that he shouts out that he hopes the fishing business completely collapses. Others at the table remind him to keep his voice down because there are still many people on the island who depend on fishing.

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Back at the office, Quoyle hands in his story for the day for his column “Shipping News.” It reflects his own opinions about the oil industry. The title of this particular column is “Nobody Hangs a Picture of an Oil Tanker.” Quoyle’s story is about the beauty of fishing ships from the past. The ships were graceful and nice to look at. Pictures of the huge, old sailboats hang everywhere around town. In contrast, oil tankers are ugly. Quoyle also points out that the oil tankers are old and rusted out. He quotes one of the locals, who predicts huge oil spills will destroy the ocean completely.

When Tert Card, Quoyle’s editor, reads the column, he curses. Then he tells Quoyle he is going to edit it. When Quoyle sees his column in the paper the next day, he is very angry. Tert Card comes in and hangs up a picture of an oil tanker in his office. Tert rewrote Quoyle’s column to make Quoyle look as if he supports the oil tankers and the oil industry. The last line in the edited version implores everyone to hang up a picture of an oil tanker.

No one has ever seen Quoyle so angry. They did not know he had it in him. When Jack Buggit hears what has happened, he tells Tert Card that he is never to edit Quoyle’s columns again. Quoyle can write whatever he wants to, Buggit tells Tert Card.

Another day while Quoyle is walking along the shore, he sees what he thinks is a scuba diver in a yellow wet suit. When he looks closer, he realizes the person in the suit is dead. He panics and wants to get into town as quickly as he can, so he takes his boat although the water is very choppy. As others had warned him, his boat capsizes. Quoyle cannot swim very well and is left stranded a mile off both shores between where he was and where he was trying to go. The only thing that saves him is his ice chest, which he clutches so he does not sink.

He is in the water for a long time before Jack Buggit finds him. Buggit was on his way home from fishing. He pulls Quoyle into his boat and takes him to his house, where his wife nurses him back to health. When he is feeling better, Quoyle tells Jack about the body in the yellow wet suit. Jack calls the police. The report comes back that the body belongs to Bayonet Melville, the owner of the Tough Baby.

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Chapters 27-28 Summary