The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant

by W. D. Wetherell

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What is the theme, not moral, of W. D. Wetherell's "The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant"?

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The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant" by W. D. Wetherell is a short story about a fourteen-year-old boy (the narrator) who has fallen in love with his seventeen-year-old summer neighbor, Sheila Mant. He asks her to a concert and, as he doesn’t drive, he chooses to take her there by canoe.

The narrator also loves fishing, and as they are traveling to the concert, a bass becomes attached to his line. But, when Sheila Mant says that fishing is “dumb,” the narrator makes the decision to cut the line and let the bass free so that Sheila won’t think that he, too, is dumb. Sheila later leaves the concert with another boy who drives a car. The narrator regrets his decision to change himself in order to impress Sheila.

The theme of the story is to always be true to yourself. Be who you are and not what you think others will expect of you.

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.

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The theme is the consequence of choice. While the narrator feels inner conflict over the choice he must make, he ultimately chooses that which is not inline with his true nature. In doing so he sells himself for nothing.

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