The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant

by W. D. Wetherell

Start Free Trial

In "The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant," what are all the characters' names? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The primary characters of “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant” are the unnamed narrator, Sheila Mant, and the bass that the narrator fails to catch. There are a few minor characters mentioned, but the only one named is Eric Caswell, the person that Sheila is interested in.

In this story, the narrator struggles with conflicting desires—he wants both to impress his crush Sheila Mant, as well as to catch the biggest bass he has ever hooked. In the end, he does not catch the bass because of his fixation on Sheila. This incident follows the narrator into the present as he reflects on the summer in which he lost the true “catch.”

The story begins with Sheila Mant having precedence over any bass: “There was a summer in my life when the only creature that seemed lovelier to me than a largemouth bass was Sheila Mant.” The narrator begins the story with this statement. Here, a girl is more attractive to him than fishing. However, by the end, the narrator’s priorities have shifted as he learns what is truly meaningful to him. It ends as follows:

There would be other Sheila Mants in my life, other fish, and though I came close once or twice, it was these secret, hidden tuggings in the night that claimed me, and I never made the same mistake again.

The narrator suggests that he will not choose a girl over his love of fishing again—to do so would be a mistake in his eyes.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are four main characters in this tale about accepting the consequences for the choices one makes in life.

The first character is the young fisherman and narrator.  He remains unnamed. However, it is his story; it is his dilemma and subsequent choices that give us our look at fate.

The second character is Sheila Mant.  She is the object of the young fisherman's affections.  She is also the thing that causes him to fall short of obtaining true happiness and self-fulfillment.

Next, we have the bass.  That would be the only name we know it by, but it is a major character.  It is the catching of the bass, and not Sheila, which would be the author's true life accomplishment.

Finally, there is Eric Caswell.  This is the person that Sheila truly wants to "catch."  For once our young fisherman forfeits his prize bass and succeeds in accompanying Sheila to the dance, she leaves him for Eric.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team