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The Struggle In Shiloh By Bobbie Ann Mason

1163 words - 5 pages

Leroy and Norma Jean in the short story, “Shiloh” by Bobbie Ann Mason, are a married couple, and they experience a series of events, which shapes them and determines there future. The final setting, Shiloh, works well to highlight the battles of war to the battles between Norma Jean and Leroy. Throughout the story Mason is focused on the persistency of grief, the instability of gender roles, along with the distance and lack of communication separating Leroy and Norma Jean from each other. Mason illustrates how marriage can be a struggle striving to work out to the very end.
The struggle to battle with the persistent grief of self-blame and lack of identity is a constant reminder to the barriers in relationships. Leroy grieves over the fact that he has lost his identity as a father and husband. Although he often thinks of Randy, the memories of him have faded. As a result, he latches on to Norma Jean but she doesn’t respond back. This causes him to feel like a failure of a husband. Norma Jean is grieving over the emptiness in her life. It was not the life she thought she would have. Her deceased son symbolizes her emptiness because of his death. She also feels emptiness towards her husband. For example, she feels very uncomfortable around him and always tries to find something for him to do. When Leroy arrives back home from his accident Mason implies, “he thinks she’s seems a little disappointed” (Mason 220), displaying Norma Jean frustrated with his lying around doing nothing but watching television and smoking pot. In addition, Norma Jean feels emptiness towards her mother, which is presented in the way her mother criticizes her. When tragedies occur in a family and self-confidence fades it can take over your life and cause conflict in marriages and with others around you.
The journey through the characters changes in gender roles, with thoughts and internal motives, become revealed to each other, which drive them to perform selfish acts and show who they truly are. There are many instances where Leroy shows his submissive role of the marriage, such as, when Mason writes, he is doing needlepoint, macramé, and concerning himself with the state of marriage (Mason 219), because of societies standards he should be concerned with providing for his family. On the other hand, Norma Jean is a more dominant character of the household. While Leroy is injured Norma Jean feels the need to take on his duties by getting an education, having a job, and focusing on fitness, which Leroy is now learning about her. For instance, Mason states, Norma Jean and Leroy used to have fun when he came back from work, eating dinner that she made, playing cards and watching television (Mason 224). This shows that Leroy does not know his wife is anymore. Leroy recognizes the change in the roles and the changes he sees in his wife and becomes concerned about his marriage. Lack of obligations and selfish acts cause conflicts in their marriage when the characters...

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