25 September 2014
Analysis of the Character Norma Jean
Bobbie Ann Mason’s “Shiloh” is part of a collection of short stories named Shiloh and Other Stories, which received the 1983 “Ernest Hemingway Award.” Mason was born in 1940 in a small town in western Kentucky where many of her stories take place. Norma Jean, one of the main characters in “Shiloh,” is an example of the sort of rural character Mason often writes about. Norma Jean is an immature, but ambitious person who is trapped in an unhappy marriage. Throughout the story, she attempts to improve herself and move forward in life. By the end of the story, she is growing, leaving her marriage, and running away from the Southern tradition. At the beginning of the story, readers first learn of Norma Jean's efforts to improve herself. When the story opens, she is an uneducated woman who became pregnant when she was seventeen-years-old. The narrator begins the story by telling the reader that Norma Jean is lifting weights, “to try building herself up” (804). This change, though a less significant one, is the first that she makes to improve herself. Later in the story, to her husband’s surprise, Norma Jean starts taking classes at the local community college. Due to her early pregnancy and marriage, she has never gone to college; nevertheless, she is finally starting in her 30s. When Leroy Moffitt, her husband, asks her, “What are you doing this for, anyhow?” she answers, “It’s something to do” (810). Hence, she is trying to change and push forward rather than standing still and doing nothing. These physical and mental changes, along with others, will move Norma Jean forward and away from her marriage and her traditions. Norma Jean’s marriage to Leroy started when they both were in high school. They were two immature seventeen-year-olds who got married because they became pregnant. Their marriage suffered from an early tragedy when their son, Randy, abruptly died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome....
Cited: “Bobbie Ann Mason.” Novels for Students. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Literature Resource Center. Web. 12 Sept. 2014.
"Overview: ‘Shiloh. '" Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Literature Resource Center. Web. 12 Sep. 2014.
Mason, Bobbie Ann. “Shiloh.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. K. J Mays. 11th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 2013. 804-14. Print.
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