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The Shipping News

Annie Proulx

Chapters 19–21

Chapters 16–18

Chapters 19–21, page 2

page 1 of 3

Chapter 19: Good-bye, Buddy

Tert Card sometimes sent everyone out of the newsroom, and one day Billy Pretty, Nutbeem and Quoyle go out for fish and chips. Nutbeem reports having a deluge of sexual abuse stories. The men swap stories, and Billy invites Quoyle out to Gaze Island, a place Quoyle has not yet sent. Billy also explains how Killick-Claw grew into a community, usurping the role that Misky Bay once served. During the war, so much ammunition and cables were dropped underwater near Misky Bay, that no one wants to anchor his boat in the harbor. Quoyle then reads his friends another article he wrote about a man getting electrocuted on board a boat called Buddy.

Chapter 20: Gaze Island

Billy Pretty and Quoyle go out to Gaze Island. On the way, Billy points out all names of the rocks sticking out of the water. One, called the Komatik-Dog, looks like a sled dog and is located right at the end of Quoyle's point. The legend was that the dog would wait for a wreck, and eat the drowning people. Billy tells Quoyle stories on the way, too. First, he says that Quoyle's only other living relative Nolan lives around there and wants the family house. Billy also tells Quoyle that Omaloor Bay is named after the loony, dim-witted, and murderous Quoyles. Billy explains to Quoyle how Quoyle's ancestors dragged the green house onto the Point over the ice a hundred years before.

Billy Pretty grew up on Gaze Island, and is actually Jack Buggit's second cousin. He explains that the Islanders were known for their knowledge of fishing and volcanoes. Inhabited by only five families, they were an incestuous group. Now, the island is deserted. Billy and Quoyle go ashore, and Billy finds his father's tombstone and repaints it. Quoyle is reminded of his father , who loved fruits. Quoyle thinks he should have been a farmer. Billy, too had a father who should have been a farmer. He was in an orphanage in England, and was sent over to work on a farm in Canada. When the ship got in a wreck, a few boys, including Billy's father, were found by the people on Gaze Island. The Pretty's adopted Billy, hiding him from the people who came to take him on to Canada. It was a good thing, since Billy's father received many miserable letters from his friends who made it to Canada, detailing abusive working conditions on the farms. Billy's father eventually made sure that all of Gaze Island could read and write. Billy tells Quoyle that his father used to say that every man had four women in his heart: the "Maid in the Meadow," "Demon Lover," "Stouthearted Woman," and the "Tall and Quiet Woman." Billy himself never married due to a "personal affliction" which he tried to keep secret.

Before they leave, Billy shows Quoyle another cemetery where all of Quoyle's ancestors —pirates and plunderers—are buried. He shows Quoyle a bed of flat rocks where the green house once stood before the Quoyles hauled it to Quoyle Point. They were run out on account of their refusal to attend Pentecostal services.

Chapter 21: Poetic Navigation

The fog is coming in as Quoyle and Billy head back. They find an expensive- looking suitcase on one of the rocks, and they begin to smell something rotten. Billy is a good navigator, recognizing his route by the rocks. He decides that they will pull into Desperate Cove to wait for the fog to lift. When the get ashore, they grab a meal before Quoyle breaks the lock on the suitcase. Inside is the head of Bayonet Melville.


Chapter 19 again shows Quoyle interacting and living his life within the confines of a safe structure or place. As the newsroom men sit and swap stories, it is obvious that Quoyle is an integral figure in their community. Billy Pretty invites him on a day trip, and the friends willingly listen while Quoyle proudly reads his news story. Having the inside scoop on ships and boats seems to help Quoyle establish himself among his peers. (Billy's and Nutbeem's reactions to the story are telling about their different characters. Billy sensitively calls the story a "shame," while Nutbeem in a startlingly funny way, exclaims that Jack will like it for the "blood, boats, and blowups.")

More Help

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by Anki145, August 23, 2012

Why doesn't the "The Sun Clouds Over" chapter have a "Chapter 30:" in front of it like all of the rest of the chapters do?


3 out of 7 people found this helpful

Spelling mistake

by serg06, February 26, 2014

Chapter 36, second paragraph, first sentence: "diromg" instead of "during".

Spelling mistake

by serg06, February 26, 2014

Chapter 37, paragraph 3, sentence 2: "turn7"

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