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In Bobbie Ann Mason's "Shiloh," what is the resolution?

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sta112 | Teacher | Salutatorian

Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:21 PM via web

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In Bobbie Ann Mason's "Shiloh," what is the resolution?

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

Posted April 11, 2012 at 7:41 PM (Answer #1)

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Bobbie Ann Mason's "Shiloh" is the first story in her 1982 collection Shiloh and Other Stories.

Because of the "slice-of-life" nature of the story, there is no full resolution. At the end of the story, Norma Jean and Leroy visit the Civil War memorial at Shiloh, Tennessee. Their intent is to rekindle their relationship, but instead Norma Jean tells Leroy she wants to leave him, leaving Leroy confused. She walks away:

Norma Jean has reached the bluff, and she is looking out over the Tennessee River. Now she turns towards Leroy and waves her arms. Is she beckoning to him? She seems to be doing an exercise for her chest muscles. The sky is unusually pale -- the color of the dust ruffle Mabel made for their bed.
(Mason, "Shiloh," Google Books)

It is likely that their marriage is fully over. Leroy cannot entirely understand why Norma Jean is unhappy, and can't reconcile her feelings with his own; he thinks things will be fine just as soon as he builds their house. He realizes, at the end, that the house is not what will make Norma Jean happy, but he doesn't know what to do instead or how to make their marriage work. Norma Jeans's gesture echoes her exercises at the beginning, showing that she is more concerned with her own development than with their marriage.

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