Shiloh: Marriage and Norma Jean

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Shiloh: An analytical review
In the human race, as with almost all species, the male leads, protects, and dominates; however, this is not always the case. Female dominance occurs in the Lemur family of primates. It is unknown as to exactly why this occurs, but it is has been shown to be linked to increased maternal investment. In Bobbie Ann Mason’s story “Shiloh,” she exhibits the reversal of the roles between the husband and wife. Norma Jean, the wife, evolves into the dominate role in the marriage, while Leroy, the husband, evolves into the submissive role of the marriage. In “Shiloh,” Mason begins right away showing the role reversals in the marriage between the two characters by describing Norma Jean “working on her pectorals” (159). “I’d give anything if I could just get these muscles to where they’re real hard” (159). This shows that Norma Jean is not going to fall into the traditional feminine role of the wife. This is the beginning of Mason’s portrayal of Norma Jean being superior in the marriage. Mason starts out describing Leroy as a truck driver who had been recently injured in an accident and was temporarily disabled (159). Truck driving is predominately a man’s profession. However, Mason goes on to say that he is doing needlepoint, macramé, and concerning himself with the state of his marriage (160). These are traditionally characteristics of things women do. These reversed roles symbolize a change in their marriage. Recognizing this change in roles, as well as the changes he is seeing in his wife, Leroy becomes increasingly concerned about his marriage. She is lifting weights and has gone back to school. He cannot understand why she is going to school. It intimidates him (167). He begins to suspect that maybe Norma Jean is cheating on him. Leroy’s feelings for his wife have turned “tender”, and he begins to wonder “how she feels about him” (160). He asks her, “Am I still the king around here?” (169). The feelings that Leroy...
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