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The Shipping News

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

'There's two ways of living here now. There's the old way, look out for your family, die where you was born, fish, cut your wood, keep a garden, make do with what you got. Then there's the new way. Work out, have a job, somebody tell you what to do, your brother's in South Africa, your mother's in Regina, buy every goddamn cockadoodle piece of Japanese crap can. Leave home. Go off to look for work. And some has a hard time of it. . . . Now we got to deal with Crock-Pots and consumer ratings, asphalt driveways, lotteries, fried chicken franchises, Mint Royale coffee and gourmet shops, all that stuff.'

These lines are spoken by Jack Buggit after Tert Card leaves town to take a job working for an oil supply company. He is explaining to Quoyle the new "lifestyles" section of the newspaper that Quoyle will launch; this section will now address both the old lifestyle, and the new. The quotation references the of the uncertainty surrounding social and economic change. Jack's tone when talking about the "old" ways is much more benevolent than his snide impatience with the "new" way of life. The old types look out for their kin while the new ones buy "goddamn cockadoodle … crap." The old way dramatizes values of rugged individualism, familial loyalty, and subsistence living, while the new way suggests separation from family, alienation of the worker, and a global trading system.

The words used to describe the old way of life are far fewer in number than the words describing the new economic and social order; the paragraph in this way actually acts out the very difference that is its subject—a more complex life requires a longer explanation, has more facets that must be included and comprehended. Although Jack Buggit shows a strong bias for the old way of life, his general point is that they have to change the section of the paper that deals with lifestyle in order to address the change. This passage shows him anticipating the inevitability of change; like it or not, it's coming and a newspaper—just like the people it serves—will have to acknowledge this new way of life.