Shiloh, a story about a family broken apart because of differences, is set in the south. Kentucky or Tennessee, a young woman, Norma Jean, and her husband rent a small house. Norma is not used to having her him around the house, but because of a trucking accident, he is forced to stay at home. Shiloh, a Civil War battle town, happened to be one of the bloodiest, most heart breaking battles throughout the entire war. Over 3500 men were killed. That makes more than 7000 wounded hearts. I strongly believe that the entire intent of this short story was the relation to the title.
Taking place more than 50 years after the battle, the story has a strong effect that is felt when reading. It seems as though every character is terribly heartbroken. Norma Jean, named after the beautiful and talented Marilyn Monroe, is a very uncertain woman. Marrying young, she had a child, Randy, who died of SIDS. The reader is told that they don’t think of him very often, but that is wrong. Ever since the death of the child, she has had difficulty regaining her grip on life. She is not sure if her love for her husband is true, and she begins to doubt herself and her actions.
Living with her mother, she feels the need to hide every little habit that she has. One in particular, smoking. Her mother does not know that her daughter smokes until she catches Norma. Afraid of what her mother might say, she quits smoking shortly thereafter. Everything that Norma does seems to be wrong in her own eyes. Nothing is satisfactory. Nothing can be settled on. Norma Jean breaks her loss of love to her husband while they are visiting the site of the battle. Her heart has finally broken, and she has left her loved one.
It might have been out of choice, it might have been out of must, but it was done. Just as the war victims and their killers, she walked away with a broken heart. The husband leads a life full of dreams and secrets. His life and his love away from home were his truck. Spending more than enough time in the cab, he grew accustomed to the road’s ways. During his spare time, he takes up drugs, more than before. He states that he used to do speed while driving at nights. This makes me wonder…what caused the truck to jack knife in the first place?
Snow and ice are those that usually do, but if he was in the south, that is doubtful. Was he under the influence of something at the time? Was it his fault? As he sits at home, he realizes how much of the home life he really has missed. His wife is more beautiful than ever, and he is constantly trying to prove his love to her. When they go visit the site of the battle, she tells him that she doesn’t love him any longer. His life is virtually over. He has lost everything, with no exceptions. I am sure that if he could, he would have gladly died right there on the field where his ancestors did.