Analysis of "The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant"
November 3, 2009
Analysis of “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant” “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant,” by W. D. Wetherell, is an initiation story in which the symbols of fishing and Sheila Mant illustrate how the character of the narrator transforms from youth and innocence to sophistication and maturity. At age fourteen, it is typical for a boy such as the narrator to be beginning this transformation. Being innocent and naïve in a sense, the fourteen year old narrator gets an enormous crush on a seventeen year old girl named Sheila Mant and comes to believe she is what he loves most in life. For him, Sheila is a symbol of the maturity and sophistication he will eventually become a
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Even so, letting the bass go was a sign that he was not yet to the point of being completely grown up, and that he still has some changing to do. Lastly, Sheila Mant and the narrator’s “love” for her is viewed by the narrator as “the epitome of sophistication” (1) at the beginning. Being older, she seems to be the maturity he is looking for so he thinks choosing her is the mature thing to do. Though in retrospect, the narrator would come to see her as “the incarnation of innocence and youth” as the Dartmouth heavyweight crew had viewed her before (1). This is because it had been a childish decision to choose Sheila over the bass. Even so, it was this decision that led him to learning not to make the same mistake in giving up what really mattered to him for something childish. As an initiation story, “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant” uses the symbols of the fishing rod, the bass, and Sheila to depict his transformation from youth to adulthood. His love of both fishing and Sheila Mant show his innocence at the beginning of the novel. As the narrator begins to change and develop as a person, so too do the symbols change in their meaning to him. The fishing rod becomes his true passion, the bass becomes his inward struggle of becoming more mature, and instead of being sophistication, Sheila