Shiloh Questions and Answers
by Bobbie Ann Mason

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

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At seeming to be about marriage, Bobbie Ann Mason’s "Shiloh" (1982) is also a story about the death of the American Dream as well as the cost of modernization. Mason uses irony and paradox to capture the sadness and uncertainty that accompany such monumental, irreversible changes.

One of the most interesting and subtle examples of dramatic irony is that even as Leroy takes up construction and assembly as a hobby, his own marriage is disintegrating. At home on temporary disability after he broke his hip in a truck-driving accident, Leroy takes to building things from “craft kits.” He begins to pay attention to “how things are put together” and wants to build an actual log cabin for his wife, Norma Jean. Leroy also feels that he finally has the time to work on his home after all those years on the road, when reality flew past him “like scenery.” However, Leroy does not realize that it is his marriage that has already flown the coop, never to return. Norma Jean is not interested in...

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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.