The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

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The first chapter of ‘The Shipping News’, written in 1993, by Annie Proulx, exposes the modern reader to the development of what everyone has experienced before; the development of their childhood. The chapter, a flashback-like image of the main character – Quoyle, displays his development into a resigned, submissive character, and one who is often under the object of cruelty. The interactions of Quoyle with a hyperbolically cruel world reveal to the reader Quoyle’s ‘walk-upon’ status by others. My context has positioned me to see that Proulx expresses the effects of a hyperbolically cruel world, the inevitable tendency to be judged on physical basis’ and the fear that many people experience to experience new things in life. It is through the use of figurative language, tone and allusion the reader may infer the effects of cruel surroundings on the shaping of a repressive and unconfident personality. Proulx expresses the possible notion of a hyperbolically cruel world, one of which, in conjunction with figurative language, shows Quoyle’s personality as a result of a long and painful childhood. Proulx herself was deeply fascinated by harsh living conditions in different countries, which may have been a possibility for the need for such expression. The inhumane symbol of family within family hate creates the sense that the reader has entered over exaggerated world, where the only thing that happens within Quoyle’s life is bad news. Quoyle’s father, in essence ‘taught’ Quoyle to grow up as a failure. Quoyle, who feared water, was constantly drowned within the waters that his father threw him into, until he ‘knew the flavor of brack and waterweed’. However, the constant harassing by his father continued, ‘failure to speak clearly; failure to sit up straight; failure to get up in the morning; failure in attitude; failure in ambition and ability; indeed, in everything. His own failure.’ The repetition of the word failure, Proulx alludes the audience to believe that...
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