Loneliness In The Shipping News

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Loneliness for some is a dull beginning of a bright future, and for others, it is unfortunate and eternal. In The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, Quoyle is a character who suffers through a boundless amount of loneliness that exists in many forms. He becomes lonely as he is involved in a one-way relationship and also exhibits the feeling of isolation when he is singled out by society. Similarly, the life experiences of a narrator in an anonymous writer’s poem, Bow Down Your Head and Cry, closely resemble the isolation and hardships that Quoyle is forced to suffer through. The narrator experiences loneliness and great difficulties coping with the separation of his loved one and additionally felt isolated as he was alienated from society. As a…show more content…
Unexpectedly, Quoyle was informed that “[Petal] took the kids and went off with that guy in the red Geo” (Proulx 22). Quoyle’s loneliness caused by his lost relationship takes a toll on his self-esteem, which is evident when his daughter Bunny says “‘Petal said Dad is dumb’ […] ‘Everyone is dumb about some things,’ said Quoyle” (Proulx 39). It is clear that the love Quoyle maintains for Petal after her deceiving departure is so great that it is enough to surpass the importance of his own self-esteem. To have reached such a point, it shows the amount of loneliness Quoyle endures and its impact on his self-opinion. Additionally, Quoyle’s unattractive chin, the part of his body that he was conscious and afraid of showing, is a symbol of self-respect. “[Petal] smiled, the pearl-tinted lips wet with cider. [Quoyle’s] hands shot up to his chin” (Proulx 12). Quoyle’s chin is seen as a symbolic representation of his self-esteem as he covers it in times of physical intimidation. In this example, Quoyle becomes a victim of his own self-esteem as Petal reveals her physically attractive features, which caused Quoyle to become cognisant of his appearance and increasingly isolated in the relationship. Similarly, the narrator in “Bow Down Your Head and Cry” undergoes closely resembled events that…show more content…
In both works, Quoyle and the narrator are characters that experience loneliness from the result of remaining distant from society. Annie Proulx mentions, “[Quoyle] cherished the idea that he had been given to the wrong family […] At the university he took courses he couldn’t understand, humped back and forth without speaking to anyone […] dropped out of school and looked for a job” (Proulx 2-3). Quoyle’s denial of his true family and minimal effort in socializing shows a weak sense of motive in his life. Through this lifestyle, a strong display of neglecting society, including family and friends, is evident in Quoyle’s way of living. This is significant because maintaining such a detachment from society initiates the feeling of isolation as one increasingly grows away from society, which includes everyday communication and general interactions with human civilization. Likewise, the narrator in “Bow Down Your Head and Cry” shares similar experiences with Quoyle. The narrator says, “They took me to the jail-house, the days and days rolled by” (Anonymous lines 17-18). As the narrator is taken to the jail-house for an unknown period of time, it is clear that he is dragged away to a place distant from everyday communication and general interactions with human civilization do not occur. Since there is no other choice, Quoyle and the narrator are forced toward

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