Sher's Short Story 'The Man In The Well'

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Pages: 4

“The Man in the Well” is a short story about a group of children that happen upon a man stuck at the bottom of a well. Instead of running for help, they decided to engage him in conversation to find out more about him. On more than one occasion, they lie saying help is on the way. At the end of the story the children run away from the well, and it rains that night. A theme that could apply to this short story is “anonymity plays a role in deindividuation.”
Deindividuation is when an individual loses self-awareness within a group and often displays uncharacteristic behaviors. This concept is shown in this short story most notably when the children first stumble upon the man in the well. “Everyone, like myself, was on the verge of fetching a rope, or…a ladder, but then we looked around at each other and it
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The narrator recalls that they “were still full of games and laughter when [they] called down to him” (Sher para. 3). This can be attributed to the children’s anonymity. The man in the well did not know who they were, so they could do whatever they wanted. The man kept pleading with the children to get their parents and get help, but they were not responding to his requests. Instead, they kept bombarding him with questions about the well. “Is it dark…can you see the sky…Isn’t there any water down there?”(Sher para. 11-18). And although this behavior is quite cruel in nature, there are some instances where the children show some form of compassion by giving the man food and water. These are most likely times when the children may have briefly relapsed into their original and individual, more characteristic self. It is highly likely that the children are not completely aware of the gravity of the situation. However, they are aware that staying anonymous was essential through it all. They even went so far as to set out rules, one of which was not giving away any names, so as to stay