The main themes in “The Man in the Well” are identity and responsibility. The children in the story have no problem being unkind toward the man, telling him that “[their] dad is almost here” (Sher 118), until the man learns the names of the kids, revealing their identities. Small children and even teenagers tend to think it is okay to be crueler to other people if the other person cannot see them or does not know who they are. Small children also have absolutely no responsibility whatsoever. When the man asks the children to “go get a ladder; get help” (Sher 116), they decide to just keep him in there as if he is some kind of prisoner. Sher shows the themes of responsibility and identity in the story through the conversations between the man and the other children.
One of the ways Sher establishes the theme of dialogue in the story is by having the man constantly ask the children to “get help” (Sher 116) throughout the story. The children, knowing the man is helpless and has no way of getting them in trouble completely ignore his request, lye that help is on the way, and make a game out of the whole situation. It is evident that the narrator seems to think that they are playing a game because when Wendy reveals Aaron’s name, the narrator said “she’d broken one of the rules” (Sher 116). The fact that the man behind the well does not know their names and makes the children think that it is okay to be mean. This situation is similar to cyber bullying, but the bully is concealed behind a
Brisman 2 screen instead of a well. Before the man knows their names, the children talk to man like a cyber bully would talk to a helpless victim, telling him that help would arrive shortly.
Near the end of the story, the man figures out all of the children’s names and then a change in...