The Shipping News

by Annie Proulx

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Chapters 7-9 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 709

Quoyle meets the staff at the newspaper, where his job has been confirmed. He will write the column called “Shipping News” and will also cover all road accidents. He is not thrilled by either of these assignments. He knows next to nothing about shipping, and car accidents remind him of his wife’s death. But Agnis reminds him that he has obligations to fulfill—in particular, he has children to feed. Quoyle begrudgingly goes to work.

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Tert Card, the managing editor, greets Quoyle and introduces him to the rest of the staff. Bill Pretty has been on the staff since the newspaper was started by Jack Buggit, the owner. Pretty is in his seventies and writes the “Home” page, full of local, homey news and gossip. An Englishman named Beaufield Nutbeem covers international news by listening to a shortwave radio and revising the stories he hears.

Card shows Quoyle where he is to sit. He has swivel chair that is missing an armrest. He tells Quoyle not to worry about writing anything right off. For now, he is to merely read past issues of the paper and become familiar with the names in the telephone book. After going over the back issues of the paper, Quoyle notices it is crammed with advertisements. He concludes that someone must be a master salesman and must be making a lot of money for the paper. He learns that Tert Card sells all the ad space.

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When Quoyle has been there a few days, the owner, Jack Buggit, shows up for work and tells Quoyle to come to his office. Buggit relates the story of how he became a newspaperman. Buggit comes from a long line of fishermen. When he was still young, the number of fish began diminishing because the Canadian government was selling licenses to foreigners. Boats from other countries came to the Newfoundland waters with their bigger ships and took the majority of the fish, leaving few behind for the Newfoundlanders. So Buggit had to find some other way of making a living. The government promised jobs. They built a tannery and a glove-manufacturing business—or at least the building to house it. The tannery went bankrupt and the glove-making business never got started. The big building by Quoyle’s house was built for the glove factory.

Desperate to make a living, Buggit decided what the island needed most was some way to pass along local news. He went to Toronto to learn the basics and came back and started the newspaper. He has no training in journalism, but he has a knack for knowing what his people want to read. He tells Quoyle that the paper runs a front-page story with photographs of a car wreck each week, whether there is one or not. If there are no car accidents, Quoyle is to pull photos from the file and make up a story. Also Quoyle is to make a list of every ship that comes into the port and everyone that leaves. That is all he has to do.

While Quoyle is at work, Agnis looks for a house to rent but cannot find one that is reasonable. She tells Quoyle that it makes no sense for them to waste their money and be uncomfortable in someone else’s house when they have a large house they already own. It would be better to pay the money to have a carpenter work on their house so they can move in. Quoyle reminds her that the distance he would have to drive is too far and too hard on his car. Agnis tells him to get a boat. Their house is right across the bay from the town.

Although Quoyle balks at the idea because he hates being on the water, when he goes to the port to get the shipping news, he sees a small boat for sale. At a bargain price of only fifty dollars, Quoyle thinks he cannot go wrong. He rents a trailer and takes the boat back to the newspaper office. When people see the boat they laugh. According to them, it is the worst possible boat to use in the waters around Newfoundland. They tell Quoyle it will take in water and drown him.

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