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The Shipping News


Chapters 28–30

Summary Chapters 28–30

At the same time as these chapters establish the aunt's strength, they also call her invulnerability into question. For whatever reason, the aunt falters in the way she manages her life and her work. Quoyle notices a few different times that the furniture she was supposed to have shipped from Long Island still has not arrived; it seems as if the aunt cannot follow through on her project to fix up the house. Also, in a true role-reversal, Quoyle has thought through their winter plans before the aunt has even started to think about it. Up to this point, the aunt had always been the one to plan and step to new challenges. Quoyle seems to be growing into a more capable character, while the aunt regresses. The same is true in the upholstery shop, where the aunt's assistant is a step ahead of her, finishing projects and picking up the aunt's mail for her.

Proulx uses several images to convey the bleakness of the coming winter in Newfoundland. Instead of a portrait of a quaint, white winter, her similes suggest decay and contamination. The fog is "as dense as cotton waste" and the fog lights "as dull as dirty saucers." By comparing the weather to waste, Proulx achieves a sense of disgust or revulsion. Even the moonlight, she writes, shines like a motorcycle headlight. This comparison reduces a celestial body to a merely mundane human machine. These bleak images set the stage for the theme of Chapter 30, which is titled "The Sun Clouded Over." The creation Bunny makes with the string symbolizes the dreariness of the change in seasons, and the sadness of the aunt's departure.