Shiloh








Comm. II


In Bobbie Ann Mason\'s story "Shiloh," there are two different personalities at a fork in the road heading in conflicting directions. Unfortunatley, the two personalities are married which creates a conflict. The wife in the story, Norma Jean, is ready to spread her wings and fly. The husband is Leroy, is busy picking up past pieces of their life. Leroy and Norma Jean married because Norma Jean was pregnant. The baby died of SIDS when he was four months of age. Less then a year after they were married the one thing that mattered departed their life. Norma Jean is working to improve herself, both with weights and a college education. On the other hand, Leroy is an injured out of work trucker who seems to be stuck in the past. After sixteen years the marriage may be ending as each character enters a new chapter in their life.


Norma Jean has entered her thirties and decided it was time for a self-improvement. She feels that there is no future in the only relationship and life that she has known. A newfound interest in bodybuilding and English Composition is her start. Leroy\'s "physical therapy, which involves weights and a pulley, prompted Norma Jean to try building herself up." The housewife cannot relate with her husband or her nagging mother who visits often. Norma Jean works at the local drug store where she is learning a lot about cosmetics. "When she explains to Leroy the three stages of complexion care, involving creams, toners, and moisturizers, he thinks happily of other petroleum products-axle grease and diesel fuel. This is a connection between him and Norma Jean." She is changing her cooking, " to unusual foods -tacos, lasagna, Bombay chicken." Although she did not play her music anymore, "her second paper was called "Why Music Is Important To Me.""


Leroy, a truck driver out of work after an accident, observes most of life through a haze of marijuana smoke. He observes that his tough independent wife is slowly receding from him, in a newfound interest in bodybuilding and English Composition. Leroy would like nothing better then to sit on the couch, smoke a joint, and listen to Norma Jean play the organ. He has her play the song; "I\'ll Be Back" almost as if he thinks the song is about his homecoming. "He is Back Again. After fifteen years on the road, he is finally settling down with the woman he loves." Leroy realizes that he is loosing her; he feels "he is just waiting for time to pass." Leroy wants to make her happy but does not know how. He wants to build her a log cabin, "make her a nice home." He is limited on ideas; unfortunately his ideas are not the same as hers. Leroy was not home for fifteen years; he came home not expecting anything to change. Norma Jean moved on and Leroy is stuck in the past.


Giving in to Mabel, Norma Jean\'s mother, they decided to go on a second honeymoon. They decided to go spend the day in Shiloh, Tennessee to see a Civil War battle ground. During a picnic Norma Jean told Leroy that she wanted to leave him. Leroy tells her all the things that he is doing to make her happy. ""Didn\'t I promise to be home with you?"" He is almost sure that his being gone caused all the problems. She responds, ""In some way a woman prefers a man who wonders." Leroy does not understand all she has wanted is him to move on; she wanted him to do something with his life. He offers to start all over again. ""We have already," she tells him, "I feel eighteen again. I can\'t face that all over again."" Leroy finally saw the picture when she walked away from him and he could not catch up.