Throughout the short story “Shiloh” by Bobbie Ann Mason the reader gets a sense of many different relationship problems. Leroy is a truck driver and is rarely home. He is injured when his truck jackknifes and he is forced to get a steel pin in his hip. This does not only hinder his life but his wife, Norma Jean, now must alter her lifestyle. They have grown accustom to never being together and this drastic change is forced upon them it puts a strain on their relationship. Norma Jean’s mother is very persistent on sending them to Shiloh as a sort of second honeymoon. The background behind Shiloh gives the reader an incidental meaning. Shiloh is used as the title along with an underlining comparative theme for all the traits that marriage encompasses.
The main comparison that is made between the battle of Shiloh and their marriage is the on-going battle. Although it is never directly said the reader gets a hint that Norma Jean is fighting the conformity of marriage and is becoming more and more independent. The women’s rights movement was a big part of this time period. She never goes on strike in a large gathered group but strikes by herself by claiming her independence. “Your name means ‘the king,” Norma Jean says…she is reading a book about another century…
“Am I still the king around here?”
Norma Jean flexes her biceps and feels them for hardness. “I’m not fooling around with anybody, if that’s what you mean …” This quote exchanged by Norma Jean and Leroy near the end of the story is quite ironic. Leroy is a pothead without a job and comes off as anything but a king. It shows that Norma Jean is showing off her education as well as her physical strength over Leroy.
Pain through out the story is another connection to this battle. Physical death is present in both the battle and the couple’s life. Randy, Norma and Leroy’s son, dies after only four months. This tragedy follows Leroy and Norma Jean around, as they never speak...
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