Artboard Created with Sketch. Close Search Dialog

The Shipping News

Annie Proulx

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quoyle lay in the heather and stared after her, watching the folds of her blue skirt erased by the gathering distance. The aunt, the children, Wavey. He pressed his groin against the barrens as if he were in union with the earth. His aroused senses imbued the far scene with enormous importance. The small figures against the vast rock with the sea beyond. All the complex wires of life were stripped out and he could see the structure of life. Nothing but rock and sea, the tiny humans and animals against them for a brief time. . . . Everything, everything seemed encrusted with portent.

This passage occurs when Quoyle and Wavey are out berry picking. Wavey has run away from him, fearing physical intimacy. This is a moment of epiphany for Quoyle, as he suddenly feels himself at a higher spiritual plane, a more lofty of life purpose. Although it is a little ironic that Quoyle feels this way after Wavey has essentially rejected him, the reader should recognize the importance of Quoyle finding something bigger in his life than his past. He originally wanted to come to Newfoundland partly for the harsh living conditions: he wanted something to push against, to make him work. The reader should also recall the comfortable mediocrity that Quoyle fell into working for the newspaper in Mockingburg. Quoyle felt challenged and energized reporting on school board meetings and the decisions of local authorities. Now, Quoyle is thrust into a bigger world—the vastness of past loves and new loves, the sea, the endlessness of time.