The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant by W. D. Wetherell

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What happens in The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant?

In "The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant," the fourteen-year-old narrator asks his sixteen-year-old neighbor, Sheila Mant, out on a date on his boat. It turns out that she hates fishing, and he gives up the greatest catch of his life for her. He later regrets this decision.

  • The unnamed narrator has a serious crush on his neighbor Sheila Mant, who lives in a big, beautiful house next door. He asks her out on a date and is overjoyed when she says yes.

  • She's disappointed, however, when she discovers that their date will take place on his boat. He tries to explain his love of fishing to her, but she just wants to talk about parties and her fair complexion.

  • During the date, the narrator happens to hook the biggest bass of his life. He's faced with a choice: reel in the prize bass or stay in Sheila's good graces. He chooses the latter, but later regrets this decision after they break up.

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W. D. Wetherell’s short story “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant” was awarded the 1983 PEN Syndicated Fiction Prize and was collected in his 1985 award-winning The Man Who Loved Levittown. This coming-of-age short story is a perennial favorite of many English teachers because of the strong narrative as well as the quintessential challenge of a young teen finding his own voice. Wetherell is best known for his short stories and memoirs, which are often set on or near his favorite New England rivers. “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant” is no exception.

One of the main themes of this story is that of sacrifice. The narrator, who is not given a name, is fourteen years old and in love with an older woman—his sixteen-year-old neighbor, Sheila Mant. He has a serious crush on her and is enthralled when she accepts his offer of a date. Sheila, however, is not so enchanted when the young teen suggests that they go on the date via the narrator’s boat. The narrator convinces Sheila that the boat...

(The entire section is 357 words.)