Shiloh by Ann Mason is a story depicting the ugly picture of marriage. The story explicates the story of a Leroy and Norma who kept falling apart as time passed. The American dream features as one of the themes in the story and it depicts at several instances. It should be understood that the American dream results from the notion that, through hard work, a person will become rich. This situation confronts Leroy after he becomes a victim of an accident that renders him unproductive. In addition, it should be noted that Leroy is a victim of the American dream as his wife who threatens to leave him from time to time confronts him. Leroy also does not have a child and lives in a rented house intending, to resurrect his notion of the American dream through constructing log cabin. Leroy’s dream expires because of the constant threats from his wife regarding divorcing him. Norma is also a victim of the American dream. This is depicted by the hard work she instills to ensure that she succeeds in all her aspirations, but she is still confronted with the reality of her husband who does not want to work anymore. The author incorporates several dramatic devices to enhance the American dream theme. These dramatic devices include symbolism, imagery, and conflict.
This essay explicates the theme of American dream as enhanced by symbolism, imagery, and conflict in the story Shiloh.
Symbolism in the story enhances the American dream theme and depicts through the dust ruffle and the log cabin. The log cabin is used as symbolism as Leroy is depicted as inclined on creating one to live in with his wife. Leroy’s inclination on building a log cabin also symbolizes how he is attached to his wife despite her beckons regarding how unpleasant living in a log cabin is and that the new developments would not allow such a structure in the area. In addition, Leroy’s doing of the needlepoint depicts symbolism. From the text, we notice that Leroy asserts “…it is my needlepoint…” while his wife is flexing muscles (Mason, 572). The American dream is depicted in the sense that Leroy is inclined to have a happy future with his wife despite the setbacks he encounters. The dust ruffle also depicts the theme of American dream in the story. A reader can notice that Mabel gave the couple the dust ruffle, which was intended to keep the troubles of their marriage out of sight. This is reminiscent of what happens between couples in America who undergo strife, but shield it from the public. Leroy’s transformation also indicates how men cower after losing their jobs in the contemporary society.
The author has also employed conflict, to enhance the theme of the American dream. A conflict depicts between Leroy and Norma because Norma does not do things that he used to do for Leroy when was still working. From the text, this can be observed where Norma indicates that she now cook anything she wants, which is contrary to what she used to do when Leroy was still a truck driver (Mason, 573). This depicts the American dream where wives lose respect for their husband in instances when they are dismissed from employment. The disrespect emanates from the fact that the husband is no longer the breadwinner of the family.
Imagery contributes significantly in the construction of the American dream theme. The author gives the characters names that have meanings regarding what the characters wish to be. For instance, the name Leroy, which means “King” in French, was used for the character, to depict his ambitions. From the text, this depicts when Norma Jean asks Leroy a rhetoric question, “Your name means ‘the king’…she is reading a book…another century…” (Mason, 473). On the other hand, Norma Jean from the narrator’s point of view has first names of Marilyn Monroe. This is a clear depiction of the American dream as this reflects popular culture.
In conclusion, the author has employed myriad dramatic devices in the story to enhance the theme of American dream. The aforementioned dramatic devices such as imagery, conflict, and symbolism depict the American dream in various contexts. For instance, imagery reiterates popular culture while symbolism reflects the life that the American people live. Thus, the author has successfully employed dramatic devices in enhancing of the themes in the story.