Literary Criticism of Leroy Moffitt and Norma Jean Relationships

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“Shiloh” is a story written by American novelist and literary critic Bobbie Ann Mason. In 1983, it won Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award. The main characters of “Shiloh" are a man and a woman. It is narrated on behalf of the main character Leroy Moffitt. He reveals his inner world and the things that surround him to the reader. The story describes a rather intriguing course of events. The couple represented in the book have a false perspective of the world. Leroy’s wife, Norma Jean, plays the male role in their relationships; surprisingly, Leroy seems to like it and loses his way in life. Evidently, Bobbie Ann Mason raises many social issues in her work. The author addressed the problem of feminism and destroyed families, misunderstandings between couples and disappointment in the future.

Literary Criticism Essay Example

The story’s protagonists are the average people Norma and Leroy, who reached the critical moment of their marriage. At some point, they realize that having lived together for many years, they do not know anything about each other. From a realistic point of view, they simply saw what they wanted to see in each other. The couple did not expect that they would see one another in a different way over time.

Let us consider the description of the reasons for disagreements in the book. First of all, Leroy, a truck driver, gets into an accident. He hurt his limbs, which is why he can not live his life to the fullest. This is the reason why the couple could not communicate appropriately. Leroy withdraws into himself and does not want to interact with others. Subconsciously, he wants to feel the help, love, and support from Norma. He was able to take another job, but one day Leroy realizes that he has spent his entire life driving a truck. He never tried anything else and “was always flying past scenery”. What if he is not capable of doing anything else?

Unfortunately, Norma does not understand the motives of her husband. It is logical because he does not reveal his feelings to his wife. However, Leroy loves Norma. He gave her organ for music lessons as a present. Leroy knows what she dreams about and remembers he promised her that one day they would live in their own house. Till that moment he could not give it to her, but he was planned to create it in the future: “I'm aiming to build me a log house, soon as I get time”.

Speaking about Norma, it could be seen that she is also in the period of crisis. She is an ordinary woman and works in the beauty department of a local pharmacy. Despite the fact that Norma works long hours, she manages to maintain order in her home and prepare delicious meals. She also finds time to keep herself in shape. The author uses adjectives to show how pretty this lady is. She has “flawless skin”; her face is “pretty” and curls “resemble pencil trimmings”. The reader sees an image of an almost perfect woman.

Leroy and Norma are drifting apart. The author reveals the common problem of family couples, ‘misunderstanding’. When they got married, they had a child who died at the age of four months. Both Norma Jean and Leroy experienced stress but never talked about it with each other.

Conscious and mutual disposition to understanding each other is crucial in any relationship. If problems arise, it is easier for sociable people to find common ground. Those who do not try to understand their partner and find a way out of this situation have significant problems. It is necessary to understand that all people are different and life together always involves compromising. Therefore, one must be prepared for life changes and be able to listen. The main heroes of this story were not. Unfortunately, too many people are attuned to the fact that family life and relationships are strictly defined. In other words, people have certain views, beliefs, needs, and expectations regarding their partner. In real life, things are not always as we expect.

There are no ideal people. People are often not willing to accept reality and constantly try to change each other, which leads to mutual complaints, reproaches, and quarrels. The reason for this is that one simply does not meet the expectations of their partner. According to psychologists , 90% of all problems in relationships arise from the fact that the couples do not know how to talk to each other and explain themselves. Norma and Leroy had to learn how to talk to each other. Probably, if he could talk about his needs and she, in turn, about her depression, they would live together in peace and love. But even the strongest love dies when there is no understanding. This is what happened to Leroy and Norma.

At the end of the story the author shows a little gleam of hope for the couple. One of the partners tries to save his family. Leaving to the city Shiloh they are trying to escape from the home routine and find peace and tranquility. However, Norma cannot help feeling that her love has faded abyss. One cannot understand what exactly happened between them. The reader can only imagine the end of this relationship.

Shiloh by Bobbie Ann Mason Summary

The names of the two characters reveal the hidden meaning of the story. After all, the name of the city to which Leroy and Norma went for reanimation of their relationship has a specific meaning. The woman’s name is the real name of American actress Marilyn Monroe. Leroy means “the king” in French. Obviously, Leroy was like a king because he planned to be a conqueror in the family. His wife has experienced severe depression instead of enjoying the life of a beautiful lady.

Therefore, every reader understands the end of the story differently. Optimists imagine a happy ending, sincere conversation, and togetherness of two hearts. Pessimists may assume that Norma hates Leroy and wants to commit suicide. Perhaps, that is why the writings of Bobbie Ann Mason are known as philosophical and realistic at the same time.