Mason and carver 693 to survive in a modern world

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MASON AND CARVER693
To survive in a modern world, Norma Jean is willing to give upthe past and any ideas and rituals involved with their heritage, includingtheir marriage. She believes in the American dream. She must move for-ward, and she perceives the development of technology as a step forward.From Norma Jean's point of view, malls, television shows, and suburbsimprove one's style of living. A log cabin, though, is not as valuable asa condominium in the suburbs, so Leroy—with his dream of a log cabin,his unwillingness to get back to work, and his desire to stop speedingby details—is a failure, in terms of the myth of progress. He is caughtin the middle. Because of modernization there is no place in Kentuckyfor Leroy to build his cabin. Besides that, his understanding of historyis distorted; living in a cabin was never such a wonderful experience,as Mabel explains to him, and as the bullet-ridden cabin at Shiloh testifies.It is a no-win situation for Leroy. Perhaps his mistake—in the contextof this story—is that he orders a "kit" to build the cabin, embracingmodernization at the same time as opposing it.The parallels between building up strength, building a model house,building a meaningful relationship, and building a future do not quitework. Norma does improve her muscle tone, but Leroy's house is neverbuilt, and their relationship is deteriorating. She enters the mainstream,but in the process she begins to lose her culture and community. Onecannot "build" to improve, especially if the foundation—history, relation-ships, and community—is being demolished. In this story, in semiruralKentucky, now well on the way to being developed, a newly passive hus-band with a modern wife and a ready-made log cabin will not fit intoa suburban maze. And no one in particular is responsible.In Carver's story, "Preservation," jobless means nameless. For theunemployed, unnamed husband who has been recently terminated fromhis job putting roofs on new houses and who can no longer find work("His face began to sweat as he tried to describe to Sandy the millingcrowd of men and women down there" in the unemployment office [36]),the myth of progress does not hold any meaning.The husband in "Preservation" enters a state of numbness, and hiswife, Sandy—whose point of view this story takes—stands by helplessly.Just as Leroy observes Norma Jean as a series of body parts, so Sandybegins to observe her husband by focusing on contextual details, includinghis body parts. The difference is, however, that whereas Norma Jean'sbody parts are expanding, becoming more and more powerful and separatefrom Leroy, the body parts of Sandy's husband are becoming less andless powerful.Her husband's bare feet stuck out from one end of the sofa. At the other end, on a pillowwhich lay across the arm of the sofa, she could see the crown of his head. (39)694MODERN FICTION STUDIES
She saw his head come down on the pillow that lay across the arm of the sofa. He adjusted

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Term
Fall
Professor
NoProfessor
Tags
Cathedral, Shiloh, Short story, Leroy, Norma Jean

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