Study Guide

Shiloh Tone

By Bobbie Ann Mason


Direct, Detached, Depressed

"Shiloh" is told from Leroy Moffatt's perspective, and his observations are presented directly, in the present tense, like a stoned reporter on the sidelines. His tone is flat, like Coca-Cola that's lost its fizz:

  • "Something is happening. Norma Jean is going to night school" (5.1).
  • "The next day, Mabel drops by" (4.1).

The tone reflects his feelings of alienation, depression, and is quite appropriate considering he's feeling lost and cut off from everything and everyone around him

Bobbie Ann Mason once said in an interview that "[p]resent tense seems quite natural for characters meandering through a vague situation."

Very wise words, Bobbie Ann.

Leroy's situation is certainly vague. Nothing is clear to him. Not only does he not have a clue about what to do with his life or how his wife feels about him, he doesn't believe anyone understands anything:

Nobody knows anything, Leroy thinks, the answers are always changing (2.10).

Maybe it's time to lay off the reefer, Leroy. The answers are right in front of you!