"Shiloh" Short Story Analysis

Essay by mem1992College, UndergraduateA, July 2014

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Marisha Mounce

Elaine Tise

Composition II

June 12, 2014

Reversed Gender Roles

In Bobbie Ann Mason's "Shiloh," Leroy and his wife Norma Jean come to face the difficulties of reversed gender roles after Leroy is in a work accident, and can no longer work. Although the feminist movement had ended by the time this story was written in 1982, it was still an adjustment for the families who were dealing with the new wave of feminist and having stay at home dads/husbands. It began to blur what men's role in society actually was. Leroy and Norma Jean had problems in their marriage from several of reversed gender roles they were dealing with: Norma Jean being the main provider financially, Norma Jean bettering herself through school work and body building, and Leroy having more feelings of affection than Norma Jean.

The first and main gender role that was reversed in "Shiloh" is that Norma Jean is the only one with the job in the marriage.

After Leroy's accident on the job, he was too frightened to go back to driving long distances for his job. Although Leroy got temporary disability, Norma Jean was the main provider. Norma Jean wanted Leroy to get a job. "After Mabel leaves, Norma Jean reads to Leroy from a list she has made. "Thing you could do."" She gave Leroy several options of future jobs, and Leroy turns down all the ideas.

Along with being the only one with a job, Norma Jean also began to better herself. At the beginning, Leroy's physical therapy inspired Norma Jean to begin working out and attend a body-building class. "She has graduated from her six-week body-building course and now she is taking an adult-education course in composition at Paducah Community...