Shiloh: Changing Lives in Different Directions

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In the story "Shiloh", by Bobbie Ann Mason, characters Leroy and Norma Jean go through changes in their life as each begin to discover what their real identity is, and what it is they actually want out of their marriage. For some people this may take years, and for others they may never realize it, while merely trying to grasp on to the past, or the way they think things should have turned out. In this short story, Mason uses a couple in their thirties to portray people who are experiencing these types of changes, and depict how they deal with the situation. In the end, the couple is faced with dealing with the inevitable fact that they indeed cannot save their marriage; it was a battle they could not win. However, before the story climaxes, the reader is given a chance to witness some of the characters' changes in identity and values. Norma Jean and Leroy struggle through their relationship because of miscommunication, trying to live through their past, and realizing that they have changed and grown apart.

Mason does an effective job of giving the reader a view of what is taking place in both characters' lives. She makes the characters seem average, easily allowing the reader to identify with the changes the characters are going through with their relationship. In the beginning, an understanding of the background information is presented to the reader through the exposition, explaining Norma Jean and Leroy's relationship. Since the accident that has now left Leroy at home, he has become indolent, and seems to be milking his injury for all that it is worth. Norma Jean, however, is a cosmetic consultant, who in her spare time, is taking some college courses and becoming more interested in exercising and expanding her life. The story picks up when Leroy is back home, and is finally beginning to look at Norma Jean in a new light after feeling guilty for not being with her for all of these years. Sadly, this realization is after many years of...
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