Shiloh Bobbie Ann Manson Analysis

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In ‘Shiloh’ by Bobbie Ann Manson, the two main characters have a relationship that is hanging on by a thread. One event that causes repercussions throughout the rest of the story is the death of Norma Jean’s and Leroy's infant son, Randy. Although the death of the child occurred years before the story takes place, it continues to pervade their lives. 15 years later when the story is taking place, Norma Jean’s and Leroy’s relationship comes to a slow end. This drawn out ending is foreshadowed with symbolism throughout the entire story. The instability of the stereotypical gender roles in the household, music that Norma Jean drifts away from, and log cabin all play significant roles in symbolizing the inevitable end of their marriage. Leroy and Norma Jean appear to swap the conventional gender roles in the story, and this troubles their marriage. Leroy sits at home all day like a bored housewife, and takes on hobbies that are considered to be traditionally feminine. While Norma jean assumes the role of the sole breadwinner and engages in hobbies like body building, Leroy makes crafts from kits and sews needlepoint…show more content…
He reminisces about high school when she would play the piano for him. The relationship that Norma Jean has with music symbolizes the changes in her marriage to Leroy. At first, the songs that she plays for him are romantic, like “Can’t Tale My Eyes Off You”. Leroy is happy to come home to his wife like this, “After fifteen years on the road, he is finally settling down with the woman he loves.” He realizes, and their relationship thrives. However, this feeling does not last forever. As time passes, the songs that Norma Jean plays reflect on the degeneration of their relationship. The song “Who’ll Be the Next in Line?” foreshadows the unstable loyalty that Norma Jean has for her husband. Eventually, Norma Jean stops playing the organ altogether and in turn gives up on the
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