Analysis of "The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant" Essay

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Kawika Prietto English 102 Professor Cooley 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…show more content…
The realization comes later after he has accidentally hooked the biggest fish he has ever hooked. By reeling in the bass, he would be losing Sheila, but cutting it loose would make him lose the catch of his life. When the narrator finally knows a decision must be made between the bass and Sheila, he chooses Sheila believing it is a more mature thing to do. When he “pull[s] a penknife . . . and cut[s] the line,” (7) he makes a conscious decision that Sheila Mant is to be more important than his fishing. When the night is over, and Sheila goes off in a different guy’s Corvette, the narrator comes to the realization that she was not worth giving up the fish. Later in life, after being with other girls and catching other fish, what “haunts [him] still” is losing the bass, not Sheila Mant. Ultimately, the narrator’s maturity came from finding out what he actually loved the most and sticking to that. The symbols of the story, mainly the fishing rod, the bass, and Sheila Mant, are symbols of the transformation the narrator undergoes. To begin with, when the narrator “automatically . . . mount[s] [his] Mitchell reel . . . and [sticks] it in the stern” (2) he shows that he is unable to consciously separate his love of fishing from his love of other things. By bringing his rod on a date with Sheila, his maturity is shown as being undeveloped due to his inexperience. Furthermore, the bass

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