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In Bobbie Ann Mason's "Shiloh," how does Norma Jean feel about Leroy's plan to build a...

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sta112 | Teacher | Salutatorian

Posted April 8, 2012 at 1:45 PM via web

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In Bobbie Ann Mason's "Shiloh," how does Norma Jean feel about Leroy's plan to build a log cabin?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:36 PM (Answer #1)

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"Shiloh" is a short story by Bobbie Ann Mason, collected in her 1982 anthology Shiloh and Other Stories.

Leroy, who is unable to work as a trucker because of an injury, has a vague plan to build a proper log cabin for Norma Jean, his wife. His plan comes from his hobby of building model kits; he has no other work, and so talks about his future plans without making any steps towards realizing them.

Ever since they were married, he has promised Norma Jean he would build her a new home one day. They have always rented, and the house they live in is small and nondescript.
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[Norma Jean says] "I don't want to live in any log cabin."

"It's not a cabin. It's a house."

"I don't care. It looks like a cabin."

"You and me together could lift those logs. It's just like lifting weights."

Norma Jean doesn't answer.
(Mason, "Shiloh," Google Books)

At the end of the story, Leroy realizes that his plan has flaws; he wants to build her a house without any idea of how much work it entails or what is inside it. Norma Jean can see that Leroy's model house is just a framework, with no substance to make it a home, like his attitude towards their marriage; in her eyes, the plan to build the log cabin is as immaterial as his concern for her well-being. She doesn't want a husband who only cares about superficial things without addressing her emotional core, and sees the log cabin as a representation of how little thought he puts into their marriage.

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