Norma Jean from the story “Shiloh” is trying
out new things after her husband started staying at home on
disability. Norma Jean has always felt she was under the tutelage
of her mother. By marrying young to Leroy because she became pregnant,
she went straight from her mother’s hold unto her husbands, without any
liberal time in between. Although, Leroy was always away because of his
job, Norma Jean didn’t feel the pressure of somebody else around her.
The death of the baby hung over Norma Jean’s head along with the
feeling of a guilt trip from her mother, as though she was at fault for
the baby’s death. Norma Jean tells Leroy “She’s trying to pay me back,
saying it was neglect” (650). Leroy felt lucky they were still married
because he “had read that for most people losing a child destroys the
marriage” (645). But Leroy starts to feel his wife becoming estranged.
“He knows he is going to lose her. Like Mabel, he is just waiting for
time to pass” (651). Norman Jean has changed, she is doing things not
consistent to her former character such as staying up late nights and
starting to talk back to mother in rebellion. And, she has no desires
of anything special with Leroy.
Finally when they are off at Shiloh, she
announces she wants to leave him, and she expresses she can’t go back
to things the way they were when she was eighteen and goes on to say
her mother and Leroy won’t leave her alone. The last sentence of a pale
sky shows a doom that Norma Jean is probably going to jump off the
bluff to her death, or, does she? It writes that she appears to be
doing something with her arms, as though doing a chest exercise.
Perhaps, she lost her balance as she turned to look at Leroy. Norman
Jean’s wavering of the arms could have been to catch her balance as she
may have been about to fall off the bluff.