The Shipping News


Chapters 22–24

Summary Chapters 22–24

The images of the iceberg in Chapter 24 foreshadow the interaction that then takes place between Quoyle and Wavey. The iceberg has two towers that tilt until the imbalance causes the ice to fall under water. Proulx describes the one tower as "[rearing] over [the other] like a lover." They two towers come together before plunging under, causing a spray of "displaced water." The simile that compares the tower to a lover is juxtaposed with the descriptions of Quoyle overtaking Wavey. They fall to the ground like the two parts of the iceberg falls underwater; they also both have old griefs that must be "displaced" before they can relate romantically to one another. The displaced water that sprays up when the iceberg goes down could symbolize the old lovers—Quoyle's Petal and Wavey's Herold.

Wavey's story of her husband's death adds another element to the theme of social and economic change in the novel. The oilrig crash that caused Herold's death could have been prevented had the ship been properly designed and prepared for poor conditions. With the absence of governmental regulations, the rig failed at the slightest provocation. This event symbolizes the inherent

Quoyle's epiphany occurs when he becomes suddenly aware of the smallness of one human being set against the great vastness of humankind, social change, earth, sea, and time. Seeing himself as such a small entity in part of a grander, greater system of life seems to bring Quoyle great comfort. For someone like Quoyle who has experienced great pain, the passing of time feels extraordinarily healing. Time is Quoyle's way out—time will "rinse" his ancestors of their evil, just as time will allow him to heal. Quoyle also feels optimistic about his future with Wavey, as he imagines them growing old together. In general, this moment offers Quoyle a sense of great clarity about his place in time and space.