Study Guide

Shiloh Section 5

By Bobbie Ann Mason

Section 5

  • Norma Jean has graduated from her bodybuilding course and now, in an effort to get her brain as buff as her body, she has enrolled in a composition class at Paducah Community College.
  • She tries to share what she's learning with Leroy, but he feels intimidated because it's a subject he never did well in.
  • But that's not all… It seems like the only consistent thing about Norma Jean is change: She used to be an early bird, but now she stays up late writing compositions, and instead of cooking Leroy's homey comfort foods, she begins experimenting with more exotic dishes. At least she keeps us on our toes.
  • While Norma Jean looks at outlines for her compositions, Leroy sits at the kitchen table playing with Lincoln Logs in preparation for the house he still keeps thinking he's going to build.
  • He wants to feel they are sharing something together, but he fears he is going to lose her.
  • One day Mabel comes over before Norma Jean gets home from work, and Leroy tries to confide in her.
  • She tells him Norma Jean doesn't know what to make of him being at home and encourages him to take her to Shiloh.
  • He thinks Mabel has been hinting all along that she wants them to take her to Shiloh, but she insists she doesn't want to interfere in their time away together.
  • When Norma Jean gets home and hears about the plan to go to Shiloh, she makes it crystal clear what she thinks of the idea by arguing with her mother and slamming cabinet doors while putting away groceries.
  • Mabel mentions a log cabin at Shiloh that's full of bullet holes.
  • Mable's as much of a broken record as Leroy, and once again encourages him to take his wife to Shiloh, saying Norma Jean needs a little change.