The Shipping News

by Annie Proulx

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Chapters 27-28 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 510

Jack Buggit has a strange intuition about what people want to read in his newspaper. A lot of what is written discusses tragedy. Quoyle’s most recent story is about Harold Nightingale, an islander with bad luck.

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Through the story about Nightingale, Quoyle lists the problems with trying to make a living off fishing in Newfoundland. He tells how Nightingale spent $423 on gas recently for his boat trip and $2,150 on licenses for the year. Another $4,670 went into boat repairs and $1,200 to fix his fishing nets. At the end of the day, Nightingale came back with nine fish, barely enough to feed his family for a week, let alone make a living off them. Then Nightingale decided to stop fishing for a living, so he went out to get his traps. On the way back, his boat caught on fire and was destroyed. After writing this piece, Quoyle feels depressed. Nightingale spent his life working hard on the sea and then ends his career sounding like “a stupid joke.”

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When he and Nutbeem go and get something to eat, they talk about Jack Buggit and his strange intuition. Nutbeem has noticed how uncanny Buggit’s assignments are. For instance, Buggit has Quoyle covering car wrecks. Nutbeem writes about sexual assaults and tells Quoyle he was sexually assaulted when he was a boy. They think it is strange how Buggit seems to make them face their worst torments by writing about them. Quoyle points out that Buggit does it to himself, too. He is constantly going out on the water where he lost one son and almost lost his other son. Buggit has so much fear of the water that he will not allow his second son to fish, yet he makes himself face the water almost every day.

At dinner one night, Agnis admits she feels concerned about spending the winter in their house on the cove. They are too far away from town. The water will freeze over, but it is not safe to take a snowmobile across, especially with Bunny and Sunshine aboard. To keep the road cleared will cost too much money. So Agnis and Quoyle say they will look for a place in town to stay for the winter. Maybe the big house on the cove is only good enough for the summer months, which is a shame because Quoyle and Agnis have put most of their money into making the house livable. That night it snows. In the morning, when they see the ground covered in white, Quoyle and Agnis do not have to think about it any more. They know they do not want to spend the winter on the cove.

At work that day, a package comes for Agnis. Inside are dollar bills wrapped up in a blue leather strap. Agnis recognizes the leather. It is the same material with which she made the covers for the Melville’s chairs on the Tough Baby. Agnis thinks to herself that Mrs. Melville can cut her husband into pieces and still remember to pay her bills.

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Chapters 25-26 Summary

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Chapters 29-31 Summary