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Shiloh

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The Second Battle of Shiloh

The switch to college life can definitely change people. In high school, one makes

friends that will hopefully last a lifetime. Then comes senior year, and after all the college

admissions letters have been received, one must face the realization that his/her best

friends will not be by their side 24 hours a day / 7 days a week any longer. Still ecstatic by

what this new life, college, holds for them, students enter into their chosen institute of

higher learning. Do you remember that first break, or long weekend, that brings everyone

back to the place where they grew up? Its a chance to look back and catch up on old

times, even though you’ve only been separated for a month or two. Whether coming

home from UGA, Tech, or even some out-of-state college, that drive home gives one time

to reflect. Will my friends who I graduated with be the same friends who I know and

love? Like I said, college alters people, and the first time you see old friends, you might

realize that your best friends are not who they once were. Although painful, this is a

process that is natural. Friends change, and friends move on with their lives, regardless of

your presence. On a larger scale, this is the dilemma brought to the readers attention by

Bobbie Ann Mason, author of “Shiloh”.

In Mason’s “Shiloh”, Leroy and Norma Jean Moffitt are a married couple living in

Paducah, Kentucky. Leroy has spent the past 15 years driving a tractor-trailer across the

country. Four months ago, Leroy was involved in a highway accident that required steel

pins to be placed in his hip. He returned home to rest and rehabilitate his leg. He is

confined to his house, something that he hasn’t seen for an extended period since he’s

been on the road. Like a college student, this is Leroy’s long weekend. Leroy comes

home to his wife, Norma Jean, hoping that she will be the same person he left many years

before. Unfortunately for Leroy, Norma Jean has moved on with her life, much like

friends who move on after high school graduation. Leroy would like for things to be the

way they were, but Norma Jean has chosen a different course in her life that doesn’t

involve Leroy. She works at the Rexall Drug Store, loves to play music, and is taking

classes in composition at Paducah Community College. Bobbie A...

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...se. Leroy knows that something has to be done to save his

marriage. Mabel, Leroy’s mother-in-law, suggests they take a trip to Shiloh, a Civil War

battleground. This is ready-made symbolism. A battling couple takes a trip to a famous

battleground. Looking for a place to picnic, they sit down next to a cemetery for Union

Soldiers, which symbolizes the death of their life together as husband and wife. She tells

Leroy that she is leaving him and when she walks toward the bluff overlooking the

Tennessee River, Leroy tries to follow. His good leg, however is asleep, and his bad leg

still hurts him. This symbolizes that he will never catch her. She has her own life and he is

stuck in the same place.

In conclusion, I have personally experienced the loss of a friend after we both

embarked on different paths. Although we were the best of friends in high school, when

the time came on that long weekend to hang out, we didn’t even pick up the phone to see

what the other was doing. Although its natural to move in different directions, it still hurts

to no longer have that friend in your life any longer, just like it hurts Leroy not to have

Norma Jean
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