Shiloh

by: Bobbie Ann Mason

Motifs

Main ideas Motifs

Music

Norma Jean’s changing relationship with music runs parallel to the changes in her marriage to Leroy. Initially, the organ represents an emotional bond between the couple. Leroy buys Norma Jean the organ as a Christmas present, and at first, the songs she plays on it are romantic. One of the tunes mentioned is “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” which mirrors Leroy’s admiration for his pretty, youthful spouse. Another is “I’ll Be Back,” which makes Leroy think of his return to his wife after fifteen years of long absences on the road. But as the months progress, the new songs Norma Jean plays reflect the deterioration of the marriage. The song “Sunshine Superman” may be an ironic joke about Leroy, who lies on the couch smoking weed and looking like anything but a superman. “Who’ll Be the Next in Line?” foreshadows Norma Jean’s faltering loyalty to her husband. Eventually, Norma Jean stops playing the organ altogether and instead begins writing about the importance of music in her life. She moves away from the present that Leroy gave her and toward the academic world that intimidates him.