Character Analysis: Norma Jean

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In “Shiloh” by Bobbie Ann Mason, we are introduced to 34-year-old Norma Jean and Leroy Moffit, A married couple since the age of 18. The story portrays a dysfunctional marriage, caused by the death of their newborn infant Randy. Now 16 years later, Norma is finally going through changes that enable her to find herself. Which inevitably causes the end of her marriage. We observe these changes in her, as she tries to improve herself, her unhappiness with Leroy’s constant presence, and her inability to communicate with Leroy. From the beginning, we see Norma constantly trying to better herself. In the story we see Norma take up body building as a hobby and going back to school: “Norma Jean is going to night school. She has graduated from her six-week body-building course and now is taking an adult education course in composition at Paducah community college” (Mason 73). The decisions she makes shows us, her desire to improve health and education level, but to also be finally making something out of herself other than just a house wife. These changes she is going through tells us her trying to gain her own independence. The reason for change in Norma’s life is the return of her husband Leroy. After 14 year of trucking Leroy’s injury causes him to come back home permanently, which causes unhappiness to Norma, leading her to say, “In some ways, a woman prefers a man who wonders”(Mason 76). Norma says this towards the end of the story, when Norma is essentially telling Leroy she wants to be alone. The 14 years alone she’d been alone had helped her deal with the death of her child Randy, and Leroy’s permanent return home has brought back those feelings of their lost child. We can also infer from this that, Norma may have purposely taken bodybuilding, and composition classes In order to avoid Leroy’s constant presence at home. In the story we can clearly see the
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