The Shipping News

by Annie Proulx

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Chapters 29-31 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 645

Quoyle is staying with Dennis and Beety until he can find a place where he and his daughters can live. He is considering taking over Nutbeem’s trailer, since Nutbeem is due to leave Newfoundland soon. In the meantime, Billy Pretty persuades Quoyle to get Alvin Yark to build him a boat. Quoyle warms up to the idea once Pretty tells him that Alvin Yark is Wavey’s uncle.

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Quoyle calls Wavey and tells her he wants her uncle to build him a boat and asks if she wants to go with him to Yark’s place. Wavey is excited about going. She calls her aunt to tell her, and the aunt invites them to dinner. When they get to the Yark’s house, Alvin takes Quoyle out to his workshop. He tells Quoyle about the kind of boat he can build for him but says it will take a while. First Alvin has to go out and find the right kind of tree. He tells Quoyle that the best boats are built from green wood. Unlike dry wood, the green wood does not suck up any water, which makes the boat more buoyant.

Agnis invites Quoyle and the girls to dinner at a local restaurant to make an announcement. She will be moving to another part of the island, to the town of St. John’s. Her business has been floundering in Killick-Claw because there is so little demand for her services especially after the summer tourists are gone. Yachts stop coming to Newfoundland in the winter. So Agnis has changed the name and the reach of her business to include doing upholstery for all boats, even oil tankers if needed. She already has a job lined up that is so big it will take her and her two employees all winter to complete it. So she has decided to temporarily move to St. John’s.

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Winter is setting in early in Newfoundland. At the newspaper office, even Tert Card is complaining, although he should be used to the weather. He talks about the icy roads and all the car accidents. By mid-winter, he says he starts dreaming about living in tropical locations. He orders brochures and buys airline tickets, which he uses to look forward to February. He dreams of the hot smells of steamy beaches.

Card, Pretty, Nutbeem, and Quoyle discuss the stories they have. Pretty has news of a robbery. Some man was caught sneaking out the window of a house, carrying a sewing machine and a microwave. His clothes got caught on a nail as he was making his way out, and the police found him hanging there. In jail, the man started to cry and proceeded to tear off all his clothes until he was standing naked in his cell. For some unexplained reason, other criminals have been doing the same. One person stripped while inside the courtroom.

In another story, Pretty tells of a man who liked to collect big dogs—a couple of pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Doberman pinschers. One day the man went out to feed his dogs. When his family thought he had been gone too long and went out to find out what had happened to him, all they found were his gloves. The man was still missing.

In the midst of these conversations, Nutbeem reminds them that he will be leaving on the following Tuesday. He has repaired and stocked his boat and plans to head for the Caribbean. Tert Card warns Nutbeem that it is a little late to be leaving. The weather is already unusually cold and the water is starting to freeze. But Nutbeem insists it is time for him to get away from Newfoundland. He has had enough and does not want to go through another winter. He reminds everyone of the going-away party he is throwing on Friday.

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Chapters 27-28 Summary

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Chapters 32-33 Summary