The Hope in a Man in the Man in the Well

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An abandoned well. Children Playing. One man yelling. With children playing by an abandoned well, the story “The Man in the Well” written by Ira Sher, shows how cruel children can be. The kids were having a fun time and discovered a well, then soon after a man started yelling for help. From then on it was the children’s choice whether or not to help him. In this short story, Sher uses conflict and mood to convey the cruelty of children.

In the beginning of the story, a group of children, playing a friendly game of hide and go seek, stumble across an abandoned well with a man suck at the bottom. Sher exhibits the first sign of arising conflict when the kids find the man in the well and they “decide not to help him.”(2). The children won’t help the man so he is just stuck in the well with no way to get out. They originally went to go get help but then decided against it, “along the way we slowed down, and then we stopped, and after what seemed like a good while, we quietly came back to the well”(5). The children could’ve gone to get help but they didn’t and stayed to cause more problems.

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In addition to the problem of the man stuck in the well with the children not helping him, they decided to stay there and talk to him almost taunt him in a way. The children ask the man multiple questions, which he doesn’t answer and keeps on insisting for them to get help which one of the kids say, “Yes, they’re all gone now.”(16). This little girl lied to the man and gave him false hope. Sometimes when the man wanted to talk to them they just refused to answer, “he began calling again, but for some reason we didn’t want to answer.”(19). The children are cruel to him and it is hard not to feel bad for the man. They bring him food but they still don’t help him or get help, “There’s some water in the bag. We all brought something.”(24). The children were being rude to him but they didn’t want to reveal their identities.

The children didn’t want to reveal their identities to the man because that would make things more real as in they chose not to help him. Sher writes “ “Aaron said his dad is almost here.” As soon as she said it she was sorry, because she’d broken one of the rules.”(35). This is when they realized they made a mistake and revealed one of their identities to the man and they could possibly be exposed for not helping him. Aaron, being the oldest one, was mad at them so he ended up revealing all of their names, “Aaron didn’t look at Arthur, or anyone, and then he began giving all of our names, one at a time.”(52) All the man wanted was help getting out of the well, but all the kids were worried about was getting in trouble, and then they left him there. “After that we didn’t play by the well anymore; even when we were much older, we didn’t go back. I will never go back.”(57).

In conclusion, Sher had used conflict and mood to depict how cruel children can be when they are protecting themselves. The children were just playing and they found a well with the man and then decided not to help him which caused some problems. They gave the man hope and played with his emotions, and when he found out their names, they panicked and ditched him. Everyone has conflicts caused by others just like what happened to the man because of the children. 

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