Shiloh is a story told in the third person about a young man, Leroy Moffitt. The man is 34 years old at the time of this story. The story begins with his wife, Norma Jean, lifting weights. Leroy is a truck driver, who has injured his leg in an accident while on the road. He is now home recovering. He is afraid to go back to work as a trucker and decides not to. While he decides what he wants to do next, he starts building models and other crafts. He decides that he wants to build a real log cabin.
Norma Jean simply tells Leroy that they will not allow log cabins in the new subdivisions. Norma Jean works at a cosmetic counter and knows all about makeup. He thinks about oil. He has been feeling more in love with her since he has been home. He does not know how she feels. They had a child who died as an infant. Leroy wonders whether they should finally talk about it.
Leroy buys Norma an organ for Christmas. He listens to her play, and after fifteen years on the road, he has come to settle with her. The town has changed in the last fifteen years. He buys pot from a son of someone who was two years ahead of him in school. Then the story goes on to tell us that he married Norma Jean when they were eighteen. Their child was born a few months later. He died from SIDS in the backseat of the car, while Leroy and Norma Jean were at a drive-in.
Norma Jean’s mother, Mabel, is introduced. She is always picking at Norma Jean telling her what to do. They begin talking, and Leroy tells her of his plan to build the log cabin. Norma Jean gets angry and tells him that he will not. He needs to find a job. Mabel suggests that they go to Shiloh. Shiloh is a Civil War battleground in Tennessee. They discuss what he can do for a living. He says that he wants to build the house. Norma Jean tells him that she doesn’t want to live in a log cabin and then leaves.
Before his accident, Leroy used to come home, watch TV and eat with Norma Jean. Now, he sees her in a new light. He observes her more closely than before. He realizes that Norma Jean closes her eyes when they are in bed.
One day, Leroy goes for a ride around town. He decides that Norma Jean is right. There are not any log homes in the new subdivisions. He comes home to see her crying, because her mother has finally caught her smoking. Leroy convinces her to play music to calm herself down. As she does, he lights up a joint. He asks her what she thinks again about the idea of him selling his truck and building the cabin. He really wants to know what she thinks about them. She tells him not to start that again.
Leroy thinks about how he used to tell hitchhikers about his life. Suddenly, he feels like he should tell Norma Jean about his life, as if she’s forgotten. The next day, Mabel stops by and tells the couple about the dachshund that killed the baby while the mother was in the other room. The woman was charged with neglect. Norma Jean gets upset, because she believes that her mother is just trying to upset her and insinuate that their baby died of neglect.
Leroy gets a beer and shares it with Norma Jean. They sit watching the birds, and then, Leroy plays with the log cabin plans. It is at this point that Leroy realizes that something is happening with his wife. She is taking a composition class at the community college. While both are working on their different projects, Leroy realizes that he is going to lose her.
Leroy confides in Mabel about what is going on with him and Norma Jean. She suggests that he take her to Shiloh. When Norma Jean comes in from the grocery store, Leroy asks her to go with him to Shiloh. Norma Jean gets mad at both her mother and Leroy. Mabel tells Leroy that all she needs is a little change.
Leroy is trying to get Norma Jean to go to Shiloh with him. She is reading a book and telling him what both of their names mean. She finally agrees to go if he will stop staring at her.
That Sunday, they pack a picnic and head to Shiloh. They do not have much to talk about. They spend the day touring the battlefield, looking at different monuments. When they sit down to eat their picnic, Leroy tries to make small talk. Norma Jean finally tells him that she wants to leave him. He tells her that he wants to start over. She says that they had started over already, and this is how it turned out.
Leroy is trying to figure out what went wrong. He thinks about the battlefield as being her parent’s special place. He then thinks about them losing their child. He tries to think of ways to keep Norma Jean. The story ends with Norma Jean overlooking the Tennessee River on a bluff, waving her arms.
NOW MY QUESTION IS, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE REASON WHY DID NORMAN JEAN DECIDED TO LEAVE LEROY? WHAT WOULD BE THE BEST REASON?
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