Study Guide

Shiloh Genre

By Bobbie Ann Mason


Family Drama

Remember the Civil War metaphor we talked about earlier? If not, let us refresh your memory: in this story, all the Civil War references hint at the notion of a battle between different parts of the same whole. In American history, the Civil War was the battle between the north and the south, but in "Shiloh," the civil war we're witnessing is a battle among three family members.

That's right folks, "Shiloh" is a good old fashioned family drama. The entire story revolves around troubled relationships between its three main characters. We see:

  • Husband-wife trouble between Leroy and Norma Jean
  • Mother-daughter trouble between Mabel and Norma Jean
  • In-law trouble between Mabel and Leroy

This three-way power struggle ultimately tears the family apart—it's up to us to decide whether the war was won or lost. What do you think, dear Shmoopkins?