A River Runs Through It: God, Fishing, and Montana
A River Runs Through It is one of my personal favorite stories. I have read the book and watched the movie before in high school, and loved them then. I have also watched the movie with my grandmother several times. We both like the narration by Robert Redford and the story lines. It reflects our own family, and is a masterpiece in our opinions. While the film adaptation may be different than Maclean’s novella, the film shows the book in a different light that makes it come to life. Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It explores many feelings and experiences of a very faithful family in Missoula, Montana. In both the movie, directed by Robert Redford, and the Norman Maclean’s novella we follow the Macleans through their joys and sorrows. These are the same people and places known by Norman as he was growing up. In a sense, A River Runs Through It is Maclean's autobiography. Norman looks back at these events discovering their influences in later life as he copes with his life's hardships. A River Runs Through It symbolized the excitement within the friendship of the two men. The river was their own special and isolated place where time could be spent, relaxed, and stress could be relieved. The river and fly fishing kept the bond between Norman and Paul pungent and concentrated in a brotherly, and also a friendly fashion. The Blackfoot River, located in rural Montana, meant everything two Norman and Paul, especially when they grew older. Fly fishing and the river was a part of, and extremely critical, Norman and Paul's life forever. They started fishing at a young age, and never actually stopped, aside from a few minor and inconsiderable breaks. The river wasn't just "used for" fly fishing. Fly fishing was just an activity that the boys persisted on doing, because it pushed for growth in their relationship. What fly fishing, and the river proposed to the boys was a place where all of life, past memories and future dreams, can be remarked upon, experienced, or deliberated about. When the boys were younger they sat by the river after fishing, speaking about how they dreamed about being fishermen. When they became older, they still enjoyed their time by the river, but only when they were alone, with no distractions. The Big Blackfoot River was a world of memories that only Norman and Paul Maclean were included in. Even after Paul's death, memories of the river containing Paul lived on with his older brother. Without this river, I believe that their relationship would have been eminently weak. If there was a problem in their relationship, it could have been solved by going fishing, and the stress of the problem would soon go away. The river was home to Paul and Norman, and will always remain their own special place. Religion is an ever present theme in A River Runs Through It. A Presbyterian minister father meant strong guidelines for the Maclean boys as they were growing up, and for Norman in his adult life. God’s presence was always with their family, even when they didn’t want it. God was more of a watchful figure in A River Runs Through It. Just like their own father was always watching them so was God. I didn’t think their father ever let his judgment of his son’s actions show. In Paul’s death, the strength of a family is shown. I truly believe the only way the Maclean family could ever live with their beloved son and brother’s death, is through their faith. Sure with a father as a Presbyterian minister, religion was extremely vital for the family, but it became so much more than that. A family can only get over a tragic death like that by relying on their inner strength that God gives them. It is disturbing to hear of the real life death of Paul Mclean, however it soothes their father to hear that Paul died fighting with all of the bones in his right hand broken. This line near the end of the story not only tells how their father must have felt, but it is a better...
Cited: Maclean, Norman, A river runs through it, 25 ed., Chicago: The University of Chicago, 2001.
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