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Failures All Around Essay

1110 words - 5 pages

“Shiloh” is a short story written about Leroy Moffitt and his wife Norma Jean Moffitt, a middle class married couple, who have been spending more time together, yet they don’t know much about each other. It is apparent that the two of them have never developed a strong and close relationship, and now they are forced to deal with the situation they are placed in now. Leroy was a truck driver who injured his leg and slowly builds himself back up with physical therapy. He spends his time “mak[ing] things from craft kits”. Norma Jean, on the other hand, has a much more physical and positive look on life with improving her body, attending a community college, and more.
The themes of the short ...view middle of the document...

Norma Jean’s feeling towards her husband is noticeable especially when she informs Leroy of many job opportunities and he provides a nonchalant response. Their marriage is crumbling right before their eyes as there seems to be less and less that the two of them have in common. Although, Leroy seems completely ignorant to what is really going on, he is also quite intimidated by the constant change his wife possesses. As the short story progresses, the reader begins to develop a stronger idea of how weak Leroy really is. This is distinct when Norma wants to end the marriage and Leroy is confused as to why they can’t “start… at the beginning” of their relationship. Bobbie Ann Mason included the “Battle of Shiloh” to incorporate the setting into the short story and to portray how Leroy and Norma’s marriage is defined as a very complex relationship.
The Battle of Shiloh was an early battle in the American Civil War. This crucial battle was quiet a costly one and is stated that both sides suffered from a large number of fatalities. The battle site remains a cemetery for the remembrance of the dramatic number of lives lost and symbolizes the deteriorating relationship between Leroy and Norma. Mason has placed the setting of the short story to be the battleground where many have lost their live, which connects to the slow approaching death of their marriage.
The primary use of irony presented within the short story is when the two are sitting among the thousands of dead soldiers and the thriving memories of the battle. It is obvious to the reader why Norma Jean takes Leroy here because it is a rather gloomy yet serious environment to be in. She takes him here instead of telling him the news at their house. The dark and dreary language used within this short story helps to convey the importance of setting, such as when specific words are presented into the text to describe the battlefield. The phrases “monuments are everywhere…thick cluster of trees… bullet holes…” add to the disheartening aroma received from the melancholy battleground setting. The colorless sky above the Shiloh battlefield, where the couple is having a picnic foreshadows the bleakness of what Norma Jean is about tell...

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