The Shipping News

by Annie Proulx

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Chapters 38-39 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 632

A huge storm hits Newfoundland just after Agnis returns to Killick-Claw from St. John’s. Quoyle teases that she must have brought the storm with her. She tells him never to say that to Newfoundlander because it is bad luck.

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Quoyle arranges a party for Agnis so the townspeople can welcome her home. At the party, Wavey has a secret. Quoyle must go upstairs to see it. When he enters his daughter’s room, he finds Bunny cuddling with a white puppy. From the time they first arrived on the island, Bunny had been frightened by a vision of a white dog. Wavey has found a way for Bunny to get over that fear. Quoyle returns downstairs and gives Wavey a kiss—the first public show of affection for her. The people around them applaud.

The next day, Wavey comes to the newspaper office, which she has never done before. She tells Quoyle that her father wants to see him. Quoyle goes up to the house, where the father hands him a pair of binoculars and tells him to look toward Quoyle Point. The scene is empty. The old house has blown away. When Quoyle tells Agnis about the house, he cannot understand why his aunt is more concerned about the outhouse than she is about the home, but she wants to know if the outhouse is still standing. Agnis had poured the ashes of her brother in the outhouse. Quoyle does not know about the ashes, but he has learned that his father (Agnis’ brother) had raped Agnis when she was a girl.

Agnis and Quoyle both admit that they prefer living in Killick-Claw. Quoyle is considering buying the house he is now renting. He tells his aunt that there is plenty of room for her, but Agnis senses that Wavey will soon be moving in with Quoyle. She tells him she is thinking of buying the building her office is in. There is plenty of room on the second floor for an apartment for her.

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Late at night, the phone awakens Quoyle. Dennis is on the other end of the line. His father, Jack, is missing. He went out to sea alone in his boat and was supposed to be back before dinner. At midnight, the phone rings again. The Coast Guard has found Jack’s boat. Jack was underneath it, his foot caught in the rope of a lobster trap.

A funeral is arranged at the Buggits’ house. Jack is dressed in his best suit and laid out in his coffin. Dennis spends a lot of time searching for a special pin to put in his father’s lapel. Bunny, meanwhile, is mesmerized by Jack’s still body. She sits in a chair next to the coffin and stares. As Mrs. Buggit goes to place the pin Dennis has finally located, Jack Buggit coughs up water. Everyone is astonished, especially Bunny.

As a way of explaining death, Quoyle had told Bunny that her mother had gone to sleep. Bunny thought that if her mother were merely sleeping, she would go back to the States one day and wake her up. No matter how many times Wavey tried to explain death to Bunny, she would not believe that her mother was gone forever. Now with Jack Buggit looking as if he has come back to life, Bunny insists that her mother will too.

Jack is taken to the hospital for examination. No one can explain how he had been assumed dead and is now back among the living.

As a closing, the narrator announces that Quoyle and Wavey are getting married. Quoyle reflects on life and realizes that if a dead man can rise back to life, then surely he can find a love that can be experienced without pain.

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Chapters 36-37 Summary


Chapters 34-35 Summary