Shiloh Essay

1569 words - 6 pages


Norma Jean Moffit is a simple, southern woman, but she is also a caterpillar who is discovering that there is more to life than crawling around on the ground. She has with-in her, the power to grow wings and fly away; The opportunity to view the world through the eyes of a butterfly. Since Larry's accident, she has come to realize that she has reached a crossroads in her life. If she goes straight on through, complacency and neglect are the only stops ahead. If she veers to either the left or right, there is mystery, knowledge, and change; The opportunity for a new life. It would appear with-in the story, she has opted for some change, and begins her adventure in experiencing new things such as "... cooking unusual foods - tacos, lasagna, Bombay chicken." She begins to work on her body, borrowing the idea from Leroy's rehabilitation equipment, which would otherwise be collecting dust in a corner of the house somewhere. She begins to take writing classes to improve her mind, which further represents her need for change and something new.

She has, in a sense, taken on the masculine role in the household since Leroy has come home. She is the sole provider for the family, working behind the cosmetics counter at Rexalls. Her body building is indicative of the reversal in her role. When discussing the meaning on their names, Norma Jean tells Leroy that his name means 'the king'. He asks her if he is still king and she "... flexes her biceps and feels them for hardness." thus showing him that he is not. Furthermore, she 'drives the nail home' by telling him the meaning of her name. "Norma comes from the Normans. They were invaders." She has invaded, and taken over, his position as 'the head of the household'. At the end of the story "She turns towards Leroy and waves her arms .... she seems to be doing an exercise for her chest muscles." I believe that she was showing Leroy that she is strong enough, or has found the strength to leave him and forge a new path in life. Furthermore, I believe that she was implying that she was never going to find the strength to carry the two of them through this relationship when she stated, early in the story, "Feel this arm. It's not as hard as the other one." Norma Jean is a woman who had accepted her marriage for what it was, until her husband came home. It was than that she realized that this wasn't what she wanted out of her marriage, as well as her life.

Leroy is a truck driver who is collecting disability because of an accident that badly twisted his left leg in it's socket. "He has a steel pin in his hip. He will probably not be able to drive his rig again." His truck "sits in the backyard, like a gigantic bird that has come home to roost." are both symbolic of his coming home, lounging around the house, and not quite knowing what to do with himself. He tries putting together some crafts and models, as well as trying his hand at...

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