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Setting in Shiloh

Setting in ShilohThe log cabin at Shiloh is the setting for when Norma Jean tells Leroy that she wants to leave him.  She tells him that she preferred his absences, and he tells her that they could start over again.  “We have started over again…and this is how it turned out”.  They are where Norma Jean’s parents eloped to, and Norma Jean is suddenly eighteen again, ruled by her mother and with a lifetime of responsibility ahead.  Leroy’s retirement is a step backward for Norma Jean.  The log cabin has been a symbol for someone else’s life, the same as Shiloh.  The cabin is Leroy’s; Shiloh is Mabel’s.  There is nothing for Norma Jean.

In the end, Leroy realizes that the log cabin is a foolish idea, but for the wrong reasons.  “And the great inner workings of a marriage, like most of history, have escaped him”.  Instead, Leroy wants to think of some new idea.  When he opens his eyes, Norma Jean is in the distance.  With his bad leg, he cannot reach her.  The symbolism is obvious, but effective.  Norma Jean appears to be doing her exercises, as in the opening of the story.  This is hers, not the cabin, and not Shiloh.

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