Chelsea MoranEnglish 102 06Professor FitzgeraldOctober 7 Essay examples

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Chelsea Moran
English 102 06
Professor Fitzgerald
October 7, 2014
Shiloh: The Failed Marriage of the Moffitt’s Throughout the short story “Shiloh”, the struggles of Leroy and Norma Jean Moffitt’s marriage is quiet evident to all readers. Bobbie Mason uses symbolism in “Shiloh” to reveal the dissolution of Leroy and Norma Jean’s marriage. The log cabin Leroy is building, the organ Norma Jean plays, and the dust ruffle Norma Jean’s mom gives them, not only serve as just objects in their lives, but as symbols Mason uses to exploit the falling apart of their marriage. Including these symbols into the story show not only the hard ships of marriage, but reveal the personalities of these characters, and how these personalities clash with each other, resulting in the ending of their marriage. One of the major symbols included in the story is the log cabin Leroy dreams of building his wife. The log cabin is an impractical idea that Leroy clings to, the same way he clings to his marriage. Once in Shiloh they see the log cabin Mabel, Norma Jean’s mom, told them about, “It is surrounded by tourist looking for bullet holes” (Mason 442). The empty log cabin symbolizes the empty and unfulfilling marriage Leroy and Norma Jean have. The impractical idea of the log cabin also provides insight into Leroy’s character. Since Leroy has been on work release he has been lazy and bothersome to Norma Jean, who is starting to become an independent women. With the gender roles switching in the house the tension between the couple is enough to make any marriage suffer. The symbol of the log cabin along with Leroy’s passive personality, shows insight into how the empty marriage of Leroy and Norma Jean started to fall apart. The organ Norma Jean plays serves as another symbol that shows the dissolution of Leroy and Norma Jean’s marriage. Not only does it help show their marriage ending it also shows Norma Jean’s development into an independent women. In the beginning of the story Norma Jean plays songs like, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “I’ll Be Back” (Blythe). The organ is new and the songs are happy and filled with love. At the same time she is learning to play these easy songs, she is starting her transformation into becoming an independent women by enrolling in weight lifting classes. However, as time goes on, Norma Jean plays songs like, “Who’ll Be Next in Line”, foreshadowing the act of her leaving Leroy. The organ gets old and worn, a lot like their marriage. As the songs become harder, she continues her transformation by enlisting in night school. Mason notes two thirds of the way through the story “She doesn’t play the organ anymore, though her second paper was called “Why Music Is Important to Me” (Mason 440). In the article “Mason’s SHILOH” the authors agree that Mason uses the organ and songs as symbols in the story. Blythe believes the reason she has stopped playing is because "Norma Jean has successfully completed her transformation from traditional wife to liberated women” (Blythe). Norma Jean’s paper shows how she too sees that music has helped her in becoming a new women. By using specific song references we can easily see the personal growth of Norma Jean, to an independent women (Blythe). The organ and songs symbolize the hardship of their marriage along with Norma Jean becoming an independent women who wants to leave her husband. The dust ruffle that Mabel gives the couple is the final significant symbol in the story. The dust ruffle symbolizes how Leroy and Norma Jean long to keep their differences out of sight. When Mabel brings them the dust ruffle Leroy jokes, “Now we can hide things under the bed” (Mason 437). Similar to hiding things under the bed, Leroy and Norma Jean hide their troubles. They had a child who passed away as an infant. The couple never discusses the child and if it is brought up in conversation the situation quickly becomes awkward. They also realize now that Leroy is not traveling, they barley know