What is a character analysis of Leroy in "Shiloh" by Bobbie Ann Mason?

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In "Shiloh" by Bobbie Ann Mason, Leroy Moffitt is the story's protagonist as well as a dynamic character. Early on, he seems blind to the clues that his wife, Norma Jean, has changed while he was on the road and that their marriage is not particularly successful. By the end, he realizes that his understanding of her and the relationship is faulty and incomplete, though he is no closer to being able to interpret her actions.

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Leroy Moffitt is the protagonist of the story and a dynamic character. This means that he does undergo some significant and permanent change throughout the text. Early on, he believes that his marriage to Norma Jean has survived the death of their baby, Randy, despite the odds. Randy died around fifteen years ago, just prior to Leroy getting his start as a truck driver. Since then, he has been mostly on the road. He does not really comprehend how much Norma Jean has changed in that time, how much their relationship has suffered, and how they've grown apart—in part because they never talk about their son's death.

Disabled now, due to an accident, Leroy mistakes conversation for connection. When Norma Jean explains cosmetics to him, he thinks of "other petroleum products—axle grease, diesel fuel. This is a connection between him and Norma Jean." Except that it isn't. He feels more tender toward her than ever, but "he can't tell what she feels about him." Leroy seems to think that if he builds her the house he promised all those years ago, they can start over: "They could become reacquainted." But it's a new world for Norma Jean, who has changed a lot during these fifteen years, and Leroy just can't see it until the end, when she finally confesses that she wants to leave him. Leroy considers the history of the setting—a former battleground during the Civil War—and how incomplete his knowledge of history is.

It occurs to him that building a house out of logs is similarly empty—too simple. And the real inner workings of a marriage, like most of history, have escaped him. Now he sees that building a log house is the dumbest idea he could have had. It was clumsy of him to think Norma Jean would want a log house.

He even thinks about how the cemetery "looks like a subdivision site," and this simile marks his growing awareness that his marriage is dead; he lost that battle years ago. In the end, he cannot even tell if she is waving to him from far away or simply doing more strength-training exercises. He is completely unable to comprehend her feelings, though he does come to some realization of his inability.

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