Explain the roles of the settings in Wetherell's “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant."

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is clear that one of the most important settings is the house of the Mants, which is described in the first paragraph of the story, and is presented as something of a magical place to the young, impressionable narrator, and as a place of possibilities. The narrator comments that the Mants seemed to him to be "denizens of a brilliant existence," and note how the following passage describes his fascination with this family and the house where they live:

...when my parents went to bed I would sneak through the woods to their hedge and stare enchanted at the candlelit swirl of white dresses and bright paisley skirts.

Thus this setting is important in the story to explain the powerful attraction that the Mants, and of course, Sheila, exerts on the narrator. Setting is likewise developed in the way that the narrator is shown to be so at home on the river, but Sheila Mant is shown to be so uncomfortable due to her hatred of fishing and also her fear of bats and other creatures. For example, the text says she "shuddered" when the narrator tells her there are bats flying around them. This is used to signal to the reader the differences between their characters and the way that they will not end up together.

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