Shiloh (novel) - Style

Style

t is a deceptively simple story about good and evil, truth and honesty and the various dimensions between, presented in the colorful setting of the West Virginia mountains.

—Nancy Gilson in The Columbus Dispatch

Shiloh is told in the first person in main character Marty Preston's voice. The prose has perceptible grammatical errors and a bucolic tone. Arlene Perly Rae of Toronto Star wrote that the novel is written in the "uncomplicated style" for which Naylor is distinguished. Jane Langton of The New York Times Book Review stated that the novel was written in a "comfortable, down-home style". Writing that the main story in Shiloh is Marty's struggle in his mind with morality, Langston noted that it is "presented simply, in a way any third- or fourth-grade reader can understand". Scholar Kathie Cerra praised the novel for its "vivid sensory detail", which enables readers to experience Marty's "inner life of thought and feeling". In Marty's "teem with life" first-person narrative, he shows how he feels when he tells lies to his parents and when he embraces the wriggling Shiloh.

Academic Leona W. Fisher wrote in Children's Literature Association Quarterly that the novel employs a seldom used yet ingenious literary technique: the story is told with "the sustained internal monologue presented almost exclusively in the present tense". The mores of his society and the actions of adults are strained through Marty's mind concurrently with his emotional agony and ethical judgments. The dialogue of the other characters tempers but does not counteract the "exclusivity of his linguistic point of view" because Marty is the sole narrator. Shiloh has a "compacted time-frame, bounded by the past-tense opening and closing". Fisher noted that because the novel's events are confined to several weeks in the summer, there is no need for a "panoramic sweep" of the actions. The reader can concentrate solely on Marty's ethical crisis. Conveying the mood of the novel is also mostly confined to Marty's thoughts and current action. Naylor uses the past-perfect verb "had" on several occasions to depict the tones of the scenes. This usage conveys turning-points in the story, transferring the reader from the "immediate tension" of the present to a growing cognizance.

Scholars Alethea Helbig and Agnes Perkins wrote that the "Appalachian setting is well evoked, in both its beauty and its code of ethics that Marty must defy to save the dog". Reviewer Ellen Mandel of Booklist wrote that the "West Virginia dialect richly seasons the true-to-life dialogue". Kenneth E. Kowen of School Library Journal perceived an incongruity in Naylor's depiction of Marty's family. He noted that Marty's father is a postman, one of the best paid jobs in suburban settings. In the novel, however, the family is poverty-stricken.

Reviewer Cecilia Goodnow noted that Shiloh is a Bildungsroman and adventure novel. Marty undergoes a physical and emotional transformation in his quest to save Shiloh. After confronting an abusive adult, he mentally grows, concluding: "I saved Shiloh and opened my eyes some. Now that ain't bad for eleven." Salem Press's Carol Ann Gearhart has characterized the novel as domestic realism.

Read more about this topic:  Shiloh (novel)

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Famous quotes containing the word style:

    A cultivated style would be like a mask. Everybody knows it’s a mask, and sooner or later you must show yourself—or at least, you show yourself as someone who could not afford to show himself, and so created something to hide behind.... You do not create a style. You work, and develop yourself; your style is an emanation from your own being.
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    Where there is no style, there is in effect no point of view. There is, essentially, no anger, no conviction, no self. Style is opinion, hung washing, the calibre of a bullet, teething beads.... One’s style holds one, thankfully, at bay from the enemies of it but not from the stupid crucifixions by those who must willfully misunderstand it.
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    I concluded that I was skilled, however poorly, at only one thing: marriage. And so I set about the business of selling myself and two children to some unsuspecting man who might think me a desirable second-hand mate, a man of good means and disposition willing to support another man’s children in some semblance of the style to which they were accustomed. My heart was not in the chase, but I was tired and there was no alternative. I could not afford freedom.
    Barbara Howar (b. 1934)