After having thoroughly searched the Norton Introduction to Literature for approximately thirty extremely long minutes I came across an intriguing little story entitled "Shiloh" by Bobbie Ann Mason. It is hard not to have an opinion, one way or the other, about a story that starts off with the brilliant line, "Leroy Moffitt's wife, Norma Jean, is working on her pectorals" (761). This story explains, with wonderful articulation, a marriage that is coming apart at the seams, a man with no real purpose in life, and a woman who is breaking down the barriers controlling her life. One might ask if I fancy this story. I would have to answer with a resounding yes, because I would not waste time to write a paper about a story I felt was hideous. One may also enquire why I favor this story so much. I will endeavor to answer that question to the best of my ability throughout the course of this paper.
First off I must declare that this story passed the infamous Middleton sleep test with flying colors. Right from the start Ms. Mason creates characters that I can easily relate to and that seem, not particularly "normal", but at least genuine and interesting. The story begins by relating how Leroy has recently been in a debilitating highway accident that has left him unable to continue his job as a truck driver. This leaves him free to spend more time at home with his wife than he ever has before. For reasons yet to be explained, this does not sit well with his wife, Norma Jean. Leroy spends his spare time, which also happens to be all of his time, constructing various things from craft kits. One day he is struck with the idea to build Norma Jean a full-size log house from a kit. Norma Jean, to say the least, is not thrilled by this proposal. .
From the beginning, the author deftly informs us of the subtle changes that start to take place in Norma Jean's physical and mental condition. This one of the things I found of particular interest.