In Bobbie Ann Masons, "Shiloh", a woman challenged the culture of masculinity. In the story, Norma Jean, is the more dominant character of the household leaving Leroy, her husband, with no distinction. The usual role of the husband being the man of the house was reversed in this story to show the power of women, but in the end it all changes. Why did Mason choose to start the story with a dominant, strong woman that grows weary and weak throughout the story?.
In the story, Mason use of feminine and masculine characteristics to show dominance over the household is symbolized in many of the characters actions. The story starts with Norma Jean lifting weights to build muscle while Leroy sits and watches. Leroy also enjoys building models and knits because he has nothing else to do with his time. The use of reversing roles is to show that the female is the dominant and respected member of the household because of Leroy's accident, which disabled him from work. At first, Norma seems as if she is a strong stable individual but as the story progresses, things start to get complicated.
Mason uses another female influence in the story. Norma's mother also plays a more dominant role in the couples life. As the story continues the two women, seem to find their weaknesses and start to doubt themselves. One instance is when Norma is caught smoking by her mom and she lets it get to her. Another thing is how the mother is holding on to the past by wanting the couple to go to Shiloh and have a second honeymoon because she realizes that the marriage is not well. As Morphew said in his critique, "Because she is so dominated by her mother, Norma Jean skirmishes as much with Mable as with Leroy" (1).
In the end of the story, all the signs of Norma's responsibilities as a wife are disappearing. She shows no sign of love or dominance toward Leroy or her mother any more. Symbolism in the story is used to show Norma Jeans feelings and emotions.