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Shiloh

ShilohBobby Ann Mason’s short story Shiloh is character sketch of two people who had grown apart in their marriage and in their ideals for the future. By using setting, Mason illustrates that a marriage spent apart is better at keeping a man and wife together than a life spent laboriously communed. The setting of the log cabin serves as a metaphor to this marriage of misery with holes burrowed into it that allow the transparency of the scenes between the couple to shine through. The setting of the town the couple lives in serves as a metaphor for the changes that have occurred in his marriage. While the story is told from the point of view of Leroy, it is the life and departure of Norma Jean that gives the reader insight into the desolation of the married couple.

In Bobbie Ann Mason’s “Shiloh,” truck driver Leroy Moffitt, recently injured and home on a permanent basis, finds out that his wife, Norma Jean, is not necessarily the woman he thought she was.  It is not that he suspects her of infidelity, but discovers there are numerous aspects of her personality and life that he was unaware of.  This realization comes slowly to Leroy, who has attempted to use this crossroads in life to give his wife a gift: a gift she does not want, but he cannot see that until the end.  The gift in question is a log cabin, one that Leroy wants to build from a kit, a “proper home” for the both of them. It is the setting of the Log cabin that serves as a metaphor for the marriage of Leroy and Norma Jean.

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