This was an interesting story to me. The plot was unexpected towards the end because it seemed as if there wasn’t anything in particular to cause Norma Jean to leave Leroy. When it comes down to it I think there were several different reasons why she felt the need to leave Leroy. When someone is away from the home for a good portion of time then the others do get used to not having them around. When Leroy has to stay home because he can’t drive his truck anymore, this causes tension within the marriage. Norma Jean is used to having her freedom from Leroy and now she doesn’t have that anymore. Then when her Mama caught her smoking it felt like even more freedom was stripped away from her. In response to feeling trapped Norma Jean decided she wanted her freedom back.
I had a general liking towards Leroy. He was innocently blinded by what was going on around him. There were signs that foreshadowed Norma Jean leaving him (her school, her not being around, etc). He was just ignorant to what was in front of his face. I think he wanted to believe that he could make her happy again and build her dream home. I find it ironic that the death of their child did not tear up their marriage, yet Leroy having to stay home does.
I believe that Norma Jean’s Mama realized what was going on before either of them knew. She kept pushing Shiloh on them hoping it would spark their marriage again. And she desperately wanted to go see it once again but declined when they offered for her to go. This was her subtle way of saying that they needed some time to work on their marriage and try to fix things.