Annie Proulx's The Shipping News: Upbringing, Living and Death Essay

Submitted By meidouzan
Words: 804
Pages: 4

Upbringing, Living, and Death Annie Proulx's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Shipping News, is the gripping tale of man who returns to his ancestral home with his two daughters, where he finally discovers who he truly is. The protagonist of the novel, Quoyle, is a 36 year old news paper writer in New York who is often stepped on and abused by his wife, coworkers, and his family while growing up. But with the traumatic news of his two timing wife's death and his parents suicide, Quoyle is convinced by his aunt that he must move to Newfoundland, his ancestral home, to get over his losses. Upon arriving Quoyle slowly begins to live a brighter life, where he not only discovers his family's true history, but his self worth, values, and ideologies. Throughout The Shipping News readers are introduced to many social issues in critiques that are present in the novel. However the most prominent social issues and critiques within the novel are the effects of a person's upbringing, regional lifestyle, and the coping of death. All of which serve a specific purpose in allowing not only for the reader to understand Quoyle better but learn the values from it. A person's upbringing play a large role in the lives of many people, including the fictional character Quoyle. When Quoyle was growing up he was often condemned by his father, being called a failure routinely. It is evident in the early chapters of the novel that Quoyle is greatly affected by this as he is often seen being insulted and stepped on without so much as a word. The most boiling point however of Quoyle's life is his doting on an undeserving wife. Petal Bear, his wife, continues to sleep with other men even whilst in the same house as Quoyle, yet he does nothing. The is because in Quoyle's mind "it's like ...[he] feels to ...[himself] that's all ...[he] deserve[s]"(Proulx 333). This is an effect that Quoyle's upbringing has given to him, the idea that all the bad things that come his way are just what he deserves. Also with the discovery of his ancestors dark history, it gives light to the fact that Quoyle's family have been dysfunctional for generations. However Quoyle changes as the novel progresses as he begins to lead a happier life as a newspaper writer, where he has pride in himself. Quoyle decides to break the chain of dysfunctional that has been in his family for generations by raising Bunny and Sunshine differently. Instead of replicating his own experiences as a child to his own children, he learns from it and realizes what to do and what not to do. The purpose that Proulx adds this theme into the novel is to show that Quoyle did not allow his miserable upbringing to follow him into his new life. That his upbringing may have dictated a part of his life but he did not allow it to dictate his entire life. A piece an advice that all readers should take when reading The Shipping News. This plays a prominent role in the novel as it is one of the main features of