Shiloh Questions and Answers
by Bobbie Ann Mason

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What is the problem in Leroy and Norma Jean's marriage in "Shiloh"? (What, not Who?)

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Norma Jean and Leroy have grown apart during their marriage, and now an inability to communicate clearly plagues them. Because of Larry's accident, he is now at home all the time, a fact that bothers his wife. She became accustomed to his long absences as a trucker, and she had begun to develop some independence. Her efforts to improve herself continue as she looks to the future. Leroy, on the other hand, is trapped in the past. He wants to build her a log cabin (she isn't interested in the least), and he's confused by the changes he sees in Norma Jean. Their gender roles seem to have reversed: he now makes needlepoint pillows but she lifts weights and supports the couple. The only reason these two married was an unexpected pregnancy that resulted in the birth of their only child Randy, a baby who died of sudden death syndrome fifteen years ago. The couple now has little in common. He yearns for the past while she seeks change and the future.

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