How does Sheila behave toward the narrator when they get to the dance in "The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant"?What is the story's climax?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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By the time they arrive at their destination, the narrator is so devastated by the sacrifice he has made in Sheila's behalf that he is not even fully aware of what his date does once they are actually at the dance. From all indications, however, it is almost certain that she pretty much ignores him at the event. The narrator recalls foggily that he "may have danced once or twice with her," but what really sticks in his mind "is her coming over...once the music (is) done to explain that she would be going home in Eric Caswell's Corvette." It is clear that the narrator is in a great deal of pain during the dance, because of the great bass he has let go so that he could impress Sheila. Sadly, Sheila cares nothing about the narrator's feelings and spends most of her time at the dance with another boy, Eric Caswell. Sheila had been preoccupied with Eric even before she and the narrator had gotten to the dance, and has achieved her objective in obtaining his interest. The narrator has given up something extremely important to him for nothing; he had been enamored of Sheila Mant, but she is shallow and completely self-absorbed, and totally not worth the sacrifice on his part.

The climax in the story occurs when the narrator chooses Sheila over the bass. The canoe in which they are riding is approaching its destination, and the narrator must choose between letting the bass go or bringing it in and incurring Sheila's revulsion. Looking at Sheila's beautiful and alluring form, he quickly makes his decision and cuts the line. The full purport of his sacrifice gives him "a sick, nauseous feeling in (his) stomach;" he may never have a chance to catch such a gargantuan bass again. Tellingly, at the moment that he feels the full impact of what he has done, Sheila "whine(s)" complainingly that her legs are sore. The narrator has made his choice, and it is the wrong one; Sheila will never bring him happiness, while catching the bass would have been an accomplishment he would have relished for the rest of his life.

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