Good bye Norma Jean
The death of an infant can modify one’s characteristic and psychological behavior to the point of suicide. In Bobbie Ann Mason’s "Shiloh" she leaves the ending of the story for her readers to draw their own conclusion of how Norma Jean leaves her husband Leroy. Most readers see her divorcing Leroy and starting a new life as an independent woman (Cooke 196 par.1). When in fact, this is a story about a bereaved mother who at the end, takes her own life due to the guilt over her child’s death.
There are many clues to lead to the fact she took her own life. I found it interesting Bobbie Ann Mason gave the character the name Norma Jean. Norma Jean was also the real name of Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn
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Leroy, a long-distance trucker who has spent most of his time on the road since the death of their child, has come home to stay after a highway accident that has wrecked his rig and left him thinking he is incapable of driving again. Norma Jean was accustomed to him being gone all the time and preferred it. "In some ways, a woman prefers a man who wanders" (Charters 973 par. 11). She never complained about his traveling. Leroy is a character who prefers to get high, lay around on the couch and think about building a log cabin for his wife. He believes he can rebuild his marriage with Norma Jean and try to regain the relationship they had before the death of their son. Norma Jean sees this man as someone with no ambition to better his self. Her marriage to him from the beginning was due to her pregnancy. I believe she has felt trapped into this marriage from the start. As she was playing tunes from a sixties songbook she said, " I didn’t like these old songs back then," she said. "But I have this crazy feeling I missed something." (Charters 965 par 6). She married at 18 and had her son a couple of months later. I believe that Bobbie Ann Mason was stating that she missed her teenage years. She had to mature quickly with a husband and baby on the way. She had to take on responsibilities I believe