In "The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant," what does Sheila Mant talk about on the way to Dixford?

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andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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When the narrator comes to pick up Sheila for their canoe-trip to Dixford, she only asks him about the type of band playing there after suggesting that they use her father's car for the trip. She is obviously nervous about travelling by canoe. She later mentions that Eric Caswell, a boy she is obviously interested in, would also be in Dixford.

She only speaks to the narrator later, after ten minutes into their journey, when she hears a bass splashing into the water. On her query about the sound, the narrator tells her what it is and she then expresses her disdain for fishing saying that she thinks that it is 'dumb'.

This makes the narrator wonder why she is so negative about fishing, and he attempts not too seem 'dumb' by trying to hide the fishing-rod which he had brought.

The narrator's attempt, however, is not entirely successful since his actions draw a huge bass to the lure and it gets hooked, creating a dilemma for him. The fish's actions get the reel spinning causing Sheila to ask what the sound was. The speaker tells her that it's 'bats'.

At this time the speaker's attention is drawn to the bass and he hardly notices that Sheila has started talking. What she says indicates that she is self-absorbed and somewhat vain - all she talks about is herself and her attempts to enhance her looks. She is clearly spoilt and indulgent. She intermittently enquires about what is happening to their canoe and then continues talking about her needs and wants.

I went to a party there. These fraternity men. Katherine says I could get in there if I wanted. I'm thinking more of UVM or Bennington. Somewhere I can ski.

I have to be careful with my complexion. I tan, but in segments. I can't figure out if it's even worth it. I wouldn't even do it probably. I saw Jackie Kennedy in Boston, and she wasn't tan at all.

The author (who is the narrator) is kept busy trying to hide his struggle with the bass. He eventually cuts the line, setting the fish free.

It is ironic that the most vivid memory for the narrator about that night is his struggle with the bass, even though his primary purpose was to 'catch' Sheila Mant.

Before the month was over, the spell she cast over me was gone, but the memory of that lost bass haunted me all summer and haunts me still.

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