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A Feminist View On "Shiloh" Essay

1243 words - 5 pages

A Feminist View on "Shiloh"by Bobbie Ann MasonIn the story Shiloh Leroy and Norma Jean, two very loving people, just can't seem to keep their relationship going Leroy, who has recently given up on truck driving due to an accident, noticed that everything around him is changing, except for himself. This includes Norma Jean, she has picked up several new habits. The theme portrayed by Mason is that most people change along with their environment, with the exception of the few who are unwilling to adapt making it difficult for things such as marriage to work out successfully. These difficulties are apparent in Norma Jean and Leroy's marriage. As Norma Jean advances herself, their marriage ultimately collapses due to Leroy's unwillingness to adapt with her and the changing environment.In this story the stereotypical gender roles reverse. The male, Leroy, is seen as a lazy and weak; and although he has good intentions, he fails to give Norma Jean the things she needs. He seems to be slightly feminine in that he watches daytime talk shows and wants to talk about his emotions. Since his accident, he has stayed at home without a job and built crafts such as string art, an macrame owl, a model truck lamp, a B-17 model, and a mini log cabin out of Popsicle sticks. The female, Norma Jean, begins sounding like a normal woman; although, later in the story more and more masculine qualities show. She is attending body building class, and almost seems obsessed with working out. She also smokes cigarettes and uses more slang than the other characters, which are both masculine. She is action orientated, like many men, and she is the only one in the relationship that has a job. She is almost seen as the provider now that Leroy isn't employed. Although against modern stereotypes, Norma Jean is depicted as being stronger (physically and emotionally) than the Leroy.Leroy, throughout it all, struggles to convince Norma Jean that she would really like a log cabin. He is also fighting to save their marriage; just as he desires to have her understand and want their relationship. If the word log cabin is replaced with either relationship or marriage the translation should not change any of the meaning in the story and in the majority of cases makes perfect sense. The first time that there is mention of the log cabin, the author states, "...he is thinking about building a full scale log house from a kit. ...Leroy has grown to appreciate how things are put together," (349). Leroy is longing for a complete relationship with Norma Jean, one in which he feels needed and wanted by her, as he does not feel now. He desires to build this on the foundation that they have built over the last sixteen years. Leroy has always had a lot of time to think about their marriage, but not a lot of time to put anything into it. He is finally available to work full time on their marriage since he will not be gone as often. He realizes that their experiences over the last years have shaped their...

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