The book takes place in Montana mostly in a town called Wolf Creek. Though the book was published on 1976, when Norman was 73, Paul was murdered on 1938. The book is Fictional but based on true stories. What is actually true or not no one knows but Norman Maclean and his family. Norman wrote a story about his life so that he could further understand Paul. On page 63, he tells how fishermen are like him in that they read the water much as he is trying to read Paul “He says he is “reading the water” and perhaps to tell his stories he has to do much the same thing.” Norman seems to think that fisherman read the water much as he is trying to “read” his life. Writing this book allowed Norman to figure out why Paul would not take help. His dad said on page 104 “It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us.” Paul was willing to give help but never really wanting in when he knew he needed it. He always escaped from his problems and ran out on life. Obeying his farther, he wrote this story not completely true so that he could understand his life. On page 104 his father stats “After you have finished your true stories sometime, why don't you make up a story and the people to go with it...Only then will you understand what happened and why.” His dad told him to write a story so that Norman could try and figure out Paul. Not saying the truth allowed him to see if something would have gone different, then would Paul still be alive? Or if someway, somehow, he could of helped Paul. Norman is a writer so putting his story into a form of writing he can be able to understand Paul better. On page 90 he speaks of Paul as a character, “...I found myself thinking about character. It seems somehow natural to start thinking about character when you get ahead of somebody, especially about the character of the one who is behind.” Paul to him, is a character and he is saying that since he is ahead of him in the game of life then he starts thinking about Paul, who is behind. Writing this strory helps him fiqure out what else he could of done, if anything to help Paul. Putting his life on paper helps him “read” his life better much like a analysis. Writing this story is his way of standing somewhat apart from himself to be able to understand his life and Paul. On page 43 he stats that one of life's pleasures is being able to stand apart from yourself “One of life's quiet excitements is to stand somewhat apart from yourself and watch yourself softly becoming the author of something beautiful, even if is only a floating ash.” He is becoming the author of something beautiful, this book. This is his way of standing somewhat apart from himself, so that he can understand Paul. To some, like Norman, reading the tragedy is much easier. Like on page 64 he said, “For all of us, though it is much easier to read the waters of tragedy.” To put this tiny sentence in a paragraph all to itself puzzles me because obviously he was trying to say that reading his brothers life as a tragedy is one of the easier ways to read his life. Perhaps that is exactly why he wrote it in this style, because to him it is easier to understand tragedy than anything else so putting it in this style of writing allowed him to further understand Paul, and his life. Norman Maclaen wrote this beautiful book in order to truly understand Paul and why he wouldn't accept help from Norman or his family. He gives many hints in the book that explains that he is writing this book about Paul to further understand. Literature professors analyze literature in order to further understand the story. Norman wrote a book of his life in a different style so that he could better understand what was happening in his own life. This style was a beautiful tragedy.
A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
January 3, 2008