Please help me point out the dramatic irony, allusion, paradox and ambiguity in  "Shiloh" written by Bobbie Ann Mason.

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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator
  • The foremost dramatic irony in "Shiloh" is found in the characterizations of Leroy and Norma Jean.  Disabled by an accident, he is the physically weaker of the two; his wife lifts weights and prides herself on her physical robustness. She works outside the home while he fills his days at home doing crafts, including needlepoint. Their gender roles are the reverse of what would be expected in the story's setting.
  • The allusion to "all the big football players on TV do it" with regard to Leroy's needlepoint refers to 1970's NFL athlete Rosey Grier, a needlepoint aficionado who wrote a book about it.  
  • The story's paradoxes seem to involve Norma Jean; though she loves music and writes a paper about it for her composition class, "she doesn't play the organ anymore." And when Norma Jean tells Leroy that she wants out of the marriage, she says "in some ways, a woman prefers a man who wanders."
  • The story's conclusion is its most ambiguous feature.  Norma Jean seems to reverse her request for a divorce when she says "I don't know what I'm saying. Forget it," but she could also be talking about something else, since it is in the context of the confusion and despair she felt at eighteen.  It is not clear at the story's end whether their marriage will survive or end in divorce.
mkcapen1 | Student

In the short story "Shiloh" by Bobbie A. Mason the man is at home following an injury.  He resides in a community where husbands usually work tough jobs that are considered to be "manley" such as truck driving.  Since the man was injured he has been sitting at home embrodering and engaging in typical female tasks.

The allusion in the story is the way the moter-in-law keeps trying to get the couple to visit Shiloh.  It is not the trip there that she means, but rather that the marriage is in need of repairs to make it a new beginning.

"Mabel straightens her girdle and says, "I still think before you get tied down ya'll ought to take a little run to Shiloh." (p. 70)

The irony is that Leroy believes that he is now at home since his accident and he will be able to spend time nuturing his relationship with his wife.

"After 15 years on the road, he is finally settling down with the woman he loves." (p.69)

The paradox in the story is that Leroy is looking forward to settling down with his wife and spending time with her, but it is at a time when she has found it much easier to live without his presense.  His marriage is falling apart and he doesn't see it.

DiYanni, R. (2007). New York, N.Y. McGraw-Hill.