Shiloh was one of Mason’s greatest and most noted works. The story is set in a small Kentucky town and contains persuasive allusions to popular culture. The central characters are young adults experiencing marriage problems and other disturbing effects of rapid social change. The Moffits have many things going on in their family and they undergoing many changes throughout the story. The switched role of Norma Jean and Leroy is what makes the story unique and great.
Norma Jean looks like Wonder Woman as she pumps iron while Leroy sits on the sofa and knits. For Leroy change comes dramatically with a highway accident that ends his career as a long distance truck driver. Now his wrecked tractor trailer sits as a symbol in the backyard, and Leroy tries to sort through the wreckage of his personal life. Physical therapy helps to strengthen Leroy’s body, but no effective therapy is available for his damaged psyche. A small metal pin holds Leroy’s hips together, but his link with his wife becomes increasingly strained and artificial.
Norma Jean actively pursues her own ritualistic patterns. In building a new body, she hopes to create a new identity. With her double given name Norma Jean may sound like a good old girl, but she is clearly striving to become a new woman. In addition to working out, Norma Jean also makes music. As a contrast to the discordant notes all around her, she creates pleasing harmonies on a new electric organ. The most obvious example of Norma Jean’s ritualistic efforts to create an impression of order, but such actions are only temporary measures. Their critical task is to put together fragments of time into a coherent personal history. They can hold together as a couple only if they can bridge the painful gaps and unite the disconnected stages of their individual lives.