The Rotting Wood Cabin Bobby Ann Mason’s “Shiloh” is the story of a man, a woman, and a deteriorating relationship. The metaphor of the cabin symbolizes their decaying marriage and is used effectively throughout the story. Leroy and Norma Jean have much different views of constructing a log cabin. It’s a constant fight between the two, and eventually, Norma Jean out muscles the unintelligent Leroy.
Leroy, a simple and na ” ive man, notices that his marriage is beginning to fall apart like a decaying wood cabin in need of fixing. The solution to the problem seems basic and straightforward to Leroy. Through the construction process of building a cabin for Norma Jean, their marriage will strengthen and develop by working hand-in-hand with one another, but she does not want this at all. Since Leroy has been home on medical leave, he has grown to “appreciate how things are put together.” (954) Ever since Leroy and Norma Jean have been married, they never put down a sound foundation because they were never together long enough to establish anything.
He fails to see when building a house, the first step that should be completed, is the foundation. Only after the foundation is in place, can one begin to stack the logs of marriage. Norma Jean and Leroy have much different perspectives about the idea of building a log cabin. When first hearing about the idea, Norma Jean responds, “They won’t let you build a log cabin in any of the new subdivisions.” (954) Leroy’s initial reaction to her response is not taken seriously. As Norma Jean’s muscles and intellect grow, so does her courage and independence. All Leroy is focused on is building the log cabin; however, Norma Jean feels like the log cabin is being built around her, and the only thing she is focused on is constructing a door to leave.
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To Norma Jean, there is no sense in building a log cabin when she has been living outside in the cold as long as she has. As the story progresses, Norma Jean’s arguments towards Leroy’s idea became increasingly powerful. In the beginning of the story Norma Jean would respond to Leroy as if he were “the king” (962) of the house and by the end it was apparent who wore the pants in the relationship. When talking to Mable about building the cabin, Norma Jean replies, “Like heck you are!” (957) At this point in the story, Leroy is beginning to see his plan being shot up like the cabin in Shiloh.
As time progressed, Leroy’s good plan gradually turned into a “stupid idea.” Leroy’s intention of building a log cabin was like trying to fix a totaled car. Sometimes it’s just better to cut your losses, and move on. What started out as one carpenter ant eating away at the log cabin, has multiplied into a community of ants. The only thing left for Norma Jean to do was to strike a match, and set afire what’s left of the cabin.