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English I & II Classes

English I short story: "The Bass, the River and Sheila Mant"

Home | English I short story: "The Bass, the River and Sheila Mant" | English II - A Sound of Thunder

Notes and Guide Questions

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September 28-Oct. 1, 2008

The Bass, The River, and Sheila Mant

Choose one of the following to write about:

~ Have you ever made a decision to give up/hide something you love to impress/be accepted by someone like the narrator in this story did? How did/do you feel about your decision?

~ Put yourself in the narrator's shoes. (Girls, switch the genders.) What would you HONESTLY have done in his situation? Why? (If fishing doesn't work for you, change fishing to a hobby you love.)

The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant

BY W.D. Wetherell

Study Guide


It is your responsibility to know the definitions, spellings, and parts of speech (when used in a sentence) of the following words.














Answer the following questions with complete sentences. If the answer requires more than one or two sentences, remember to begin with a topic sentence before you begin your details. Answer on loose-leaf paper (or type).

  1. Why, in your opinion, did Sheila agree to go out with the narrator even though her behavior indicates that she is not interested in him?
  2. Why, in your opinion, didn't Sheila use the extra paddle to help the narrator paddle the canoe upstream? What does this say about her personality?
  3. Why, in your opinion, did Sheila mention Eric Caswell?
  4. Analyze the connection between the fish and the rod and the relationship between Sheila and the narrator.
  5. Look at pages five and six of the story. Remember that suspense is the excitement or tension that readers feel as they become involved in a story and are eager to know the outcome. Find two examples on these pages that help create feelings of suspense.
  6. At the end of the story, the narrator says he "never made the same mistake again." What has he learned from his experience? Consider what he gives up for Sheila Mant, how his date with Sheila ends, and what he says "claimed" him thereafter.
  7. Considering the situation, do you think the narrator did the right thing in cutting the line? Explain your answer.
  8. What if the first three paragraphs of the story were left out? Look over the chart you created for the "EXPOSITION" section of this study guide, and think about how the exposition helped you understand the story.
  9. Think about the situation of the boy in this story and the situation of the speaker in the poem "since feeling is first" on the last page. How are the two situations similar? What makes them different?
  10. To make himself acceptable to Sheila, the boy conceals an important interest of his. When, if ever, do you think it is right to put aside part of your own personality--such as your interests--for the sake of a relationship? Give examples to support your view.


In fiction, the structure of the plot normally begins with the exposition. In the early part of a story, the exposition sets the tone, establishes the setting, introduces the characters, and gives the reader essential background information. In "The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant", the first three paragraphs provide the exposition as they describe the narrator's infatuation. Notice what the exposition reveals about the setting, the characters, and the general background of the story. Then jot down a fact or two about each of these categories in the chart below.



Do you think the boy and Sheila could have made a good match? Think about ways they are similar and different. Get together with a partner to discuss this idea. Be sure to use evidence from the story to support your opinion. Write your evidence (direct quotes) on loose-leaf paper and in complete sentences. You will be sharing your conclusion with the class. If you disagree with your partner, you may try to convince them with evidence from the story.




Note the narrator's descriptions of Sheila's moods as he depicts her various poses while sunbathing. Point out to students that these details give the reader clues about Sheila's personality. Then, note further descriptions of Sheila's words and behavior. In a paragraph, describe and explain what they express about Sheila's personality. Use loose-leaf paper (or type).



Choose one (1) of the following activities to complete. Carefully follow the directions of the specific activity you have chosen.

Your PROJECT IS DUE ON: Oct. 7, 2008




Tourism is second only to manufacturing in its importance to New Hampshire's economy. Tourist areas include the White Mountains, Lake Winnipesaukee, and Lake Sunapee, as well as the Connecticut River Valley described in the story.

  • Draw and color a map of the New Hampshire and Vermont region. (Make it larger than a standard sheet of paper.)
  • Label the map appropriately.
  • Locate the following areas on the map you created:
  • White Mountains
  • Lake Winnipesaukee
  • Sunapee
  • Connecticut River Valley



Prepare a guide to one New Hampshire's major tourist areas. Research information in geography books, travel guides, or from other suitable places. Summarize the information in persuasive text and illustrations that might entice tourists to visit in the form of a pamphlet (or guide).

Your final product must:

  • include well-written text (complete sentences, etc.)
  • include color illustrations
  • show elements of creativity
  • be presented to the class
  • show that you've researched your topic




In order to show your understanding of the narrator's conflict and the resolution of the conflict, compose a diary entry that the narrator might have written when he got home from the dance.

  • Use first-person pronouns to briefly summarize the conflict the narrator faced.
  • Explain how the narrator resolved his conflict.
  • Explain what happened at the dance.
  • Explain how the narrator felt about what happened at the dance.




You all have distinct writing voices. Writing voice is determined by sentence structure, word choice, and tone. In the passage below, W.D. Wetherell uses long words and complicated sentences. In the first passage, he creates a humorous tone by contrasting such phrases as "written off" and "dumped" with "Love's tribute."


Directions: Rewrite the passage in your own voice. Read your work aloud for the class and compare sentence structure, word choice, and tone. Rewrite on loose-leaf (or type).




E. E. Cummings (1894-1962) believed that rules--even traditional rules of spelling and capitalization--should not be followed blindly. He insisted that each individual must struggle to be unique and upheld this belief in his poems and in his life.


Read E. E. Cummings poem, "since feeling is first" on the last page of the story. Answer the following two questions in paragraph form. Write your paragraph on loose-leaf paper (or type).


How would you state the message (theme) of the poem in your own words?

Based on the outcome of the story you just read, what do you think might be the consequences of following the speaker's advice?


"The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant"

by W.D. Wetherell


  1. Antipathy: n. strong dislike
  2. Conspicuous: adj. easy to see; obvious
  3. Dubious: adj. doubtful; hesitating
  4. Epitome: n. a typical or ideal example of something
  5. Incarnation: n. someone who represents an abstract quality
  6. Overcompensate: v. to make more than the necessary adjustment
  7. Pensive: adj. deeply thoughtful, often in a wistful or dreamy way
  8. Suave: adj. having a smooth and polished manner
  9. Surreptitiously: adv. secretly
  10. Tribute: n. a payment made from gratitude, respect, or admiration


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