p. Abstract | Text | Bibliography | Notes | References | About the author 1 The criticism on Bobbie Ann Mason’s fiction centers largely on the individual’s. “These stories will last,” said Raymond Carver of Shiloh and Other Stories when it was first published, and almost two decades later this Shiloh and Other Stories by Bobbie Ann Mason . “Mason is a full-fledged master of the short story. “These stories will last,” said Raymond Carver of Shiloh and Other Stories when it was first published, and almost two decades later this stunning.

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She cooks exotic food and plays the organ. In addition, Leroy talks more openly and more personally with Mabel than he ever did with Norma Jean: At the end of the trip to Shiloh and at the end of the story—which are both her trip and her story–Mabel remains a desiring subject—and a subject of desire.

As a child her favorite reading materials were Nancy Drew and other girl sleuth mysteries. Faced with the prospect of beginning anew, Norma Jean is not about to repeat her past mistakes.

Norma Jean, however, is not interested in a log cabin. Ironically, however, in the middle of their picnic lunch, Norma Jean tells Leroy that she wants to leave him. Confined to the house to convalesce, Leroy passes time by smoking marijuana and putting together craft kits.

Henning argues that such stories require a special kind of reading. Author Biography Bobbie Teext Mason was born on May 1,and grew up on a farm in western Kentucky outside the small town of Mayfield. This is the Kentucky in which Mason herself grew up. Because she and Jet went there on their honeymoon and because Norma Jean was conceived there, Mabel manipulates Norma Jean and Leroy into taking the trip to Shiloh in order to overcome her lack and to fulfill her desires.

Shiloh and Other Stories Reader’s Guide

In an effort to find peace, they ironically go to a battlefield. The problem, of course, is that Leroy is attempting to assemble a whole person and a whole marriage using only the flat, surface details of shlioh daily lives.

She also must cope with a domineering mother, Mabel, who spends a lot of time with Norma Jean: Leroy Moffitt and Norma Jean, a couple who have been married for fifteen years, find their lives disrupted not only by the trucking accident that has rendered Leroy disabled and unemployed but also by the changes that are occurring in their home town in Kentucky. Mabel was displeased when Leroy got Norma Jean pregnant and saw the death of their son as a sort of divine retribution.


Before Norma Jean can speak, though, Mabel reveals her ulterior motive for suggesting the trip: Some of these changes are noticeable from demographic information about the area. First, she tries bodybuilding, then jogging, then night school.

Her weightlifting, adult education classes, and exotic cooking are symptomatic of her desire for transformation.

Shiloh and Other Stories by Bobbie Ann Mason – Reading Guide – : Books

Leroy is, like the rig, a random insignificant detail, a useless piece of old furniture. When tdxt tells Leroy she wants to leave him, she rejects not only Leroy but also the tradition of marriage. This family, too, however, is not quite as normative or as unified as it first appears.

Mayfield, like her fictional settings, is a landscape undergoing transition.

Shiloh and Other Stories

Although the behavior of her characters is diverse, two basic patterns are apparent. Leroy knows that his marriage is failing, even if he is slow to accept it. The latter repeats the typical response of the wanderer from Natty Bumppo to Jack Kerouac. He attempts to resurrect his idea of the American Dream by making plans to build a log cabin. They journey through wide expanses without ever finding a real sense of place. Certainly Norma Jean has a stronger personality than Georgeann and Mason must allow for this, or else Mason would simply write the same story with the same characters again and again.

The story opens with Leroy watching Norma Jean lift weights. Even then, he is sure she closes her eyes. When they arrive at the battleground, it is not what either of them has expected. The act of building offers the reader a framework for understanding this story. Leroy does not answer her.

Bobbie Ann Mason – Shiloh and Other Stories

Bbbie Journal of Contemporary Thought Often a writer will use repeated, similar images to give them symbolic meaning. The couple got married because Norma Jean was pregnant. Strangelove, a movie in which the world is destroyed, their world was in a sense also destroyed. In this case, Norma Jean is getting ready to assert her independence. History was always just names and dates to him.


When he comes back to his reverie about Norma Jean, after looking at the birds, he wonders if she closes her eyes when she jason, just as he had wondered about the birds.

Besides that, his understanding of history is distorted; living in a cabin was never such a wonderful experience, as Mabel explains to him, and as the bullet-ridden cabin at Shiloh testifies. Leroy, a trucker, has been injured in an accident and can no longer drive his big rig. Because she is so dominated by her mother, Norma Jean skirmishes as much with Mabel as with Leroy in her struggle to free herself from a marriage she no longer wants.

Learn more about citation styles Citation styles Encyclopedia. The women, at least most of them, react to their frustration and discontent more forcefully; they are or become downhome feminists, and the degree of their feminist responses within their culture is largely determined by education, by economic empowerment, and by age, or by some combination of the three. Her ambiguous gesture at the end of the story serves to further confuse her husband, who cannot accept her for who she is.

The pastoral landscapes around them are quickly being paved into streets for subdivisions and parking lots for shopping malls. For most people, the American Dream is etxt belief that if bobie works hard and long enough, one will achieve financial and emotional security. As the story unfolds, moreover, we see that perhaps Mabel was the primary source of that stress. As with his sense of history, he has left out the details of his marriage and his wife.

Neither Leroy nor Mabel will have the strength to hold her back this time. When they arrive, however, it is surrounded by tourists looking at bullet holes in the walls. In such contexts the sense of self is besieged from all sides and becomes highly vulnerable.