Shiloh by Bobbie Ann Mason

Topics: Woman, Wife, 175 Pages: 3 (994 words) Published: December 12, 2011
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In “Shiloh,” by Bobbie Ann Mason, the reader is able to glimpse the beginning of the end of a marriage. Mason allows the audience to see the different strings unravel as the character’s separates from each other, emotionally, mentally and physically. In “Shiloh,” a woman’s husband, Leroy, has been in an accident and is no longer able to continue with his work of truck driving. The woman, Norma Jean, is unable to cope with her husband being home all of the time and begins to find ways to get away from him and her overbearing mother, Mabel. Throughout the story we see Leroy’s struggle to stay with his wife and Norma Jean’s struggle to break away from her husband. As Leroy and Norma’s marriage continues to drift apart, Mabel tries to push them into going to Shiloh, hoping it would fix her daughters marriage. Unfortunately, visiting Shiloh is not the new beginning Mabel hoped it would be. Ironically, Leroy and Norma Jean’s marriage dies on the same field where countless others died to keep the country together. Mason uses role reversal and symbolism to show the failures of a marriage.

Norma Jean steps into her husband’s role, causing him to fill in as the pseudo-wife. When the story starts off the reader immediately see’s Norma Jean’s newfound masculinity, “Leroy Moffitt’s wife, Norma Jean is working on her pectorals” (Mason 569). While Norma Jean is working out, Leroy is comforting her and doing needlepoint, “’It’s my needlepoint,’ he explains” (Mason 572). Needlepoint is traditionally a woman’s hobby and Leroy is openly being the woman of his house. Norma Jean is becoming the man of her household; she feels that her husband is not longer able to fill the job. Leroy comforts his wife as a woman comforts her husband; he is backing down as the leader of his household. Norma Jean used to cook Leroy’s favorite meals when he came home, “Before his accident… [Norma Jean] would cook…all of his favorites” (Mason 573). Now she cooks whatever she wants....
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