Dennis came down from the roof, grinned at Quoyle. There was nothing in him of Jack Buggit except eyes darting to the horizon, measuring cuts of sky.

“Great bread,” said Quoyle, folding a slice into his mouth.

“Yeah, well, Beety makes bread every day, every day but Sunday. So.”

-The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

What is the 'cuts of sky'? Is it like some portion of sky?

  • Is there some reference to the "bread" prior to the quoted statements? It might be related to "cuts" somehow.
    – user3169
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 3:57
  • Dennis Buggit brought a loaf of his wife Beety's homemade bread and gave it to Quoyle when Dennis came to fix the roof of Quoyle's old house. Dennis is a fisherman. He loves the ocean.
    – whitecap
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 4:07
  • 1
    We have "cuts of meat", which refers to the different types of steaks or roasts that come from the animal (brisket, sirloin, chuck, rib, etc). That might suggest the character sees the world in terms of food. The scene is about eating. He is apparently a handyman in addition to being a fisherman. So it could be a reference to his "eye" as a builder. He's always sizing things in his mind?
    – TimR
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 10:35
  • I guess it's not a common English expression. I got the idea something along the lines of 'sizing up the sky.' Thank you.
    – whitecap
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 19:35

1 Answer 1


I think it might be going too far to suggest that because he's eating bread in this scene that it's a suggestion that the the character sees the world through food - although that could be the case. I would say that it's sensory metaphor employed by the author.

In this case, it's a literary technique meant to evoke some kind of imagery when you read it.

You did hit the nail on the head, I believe - he refers to portions of sky, and that his mind turns to measuring those parts.

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