A River Runs Through It

May 13, 2008
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A River Runs Through It is not just a novella, but one giant metaphorical piece about rivers, fishing, religion, help, and water itself. The reader will not only find the written words, but meaning to things one would never think about if they didn't read the book. Norman Maclean set the fictional story of actual, real life people in Western Montana during the 1930's. He talks about the rivers that he, his father, and his brother fished. He discusses of the differences and relates to the lives of his family.


As Paul grew older and more aggressive, he began to get into trouble. He stepped outside the lines that his father had drawn. On page 16 Norman states:

“It was a beautiful stretch of water, either to a fisherman or a photographer, although each would have focused his equipment on a different point. It was a barely submerged waterfall. The reef of rock was about two feet under the water, so the whole river rose into one wave, shook itself into spray, then fell back on itself and turned blue. After it recovered from the shock, it came back to see how it had fallen.”


Paul was a type that would get into any sort of mischief and not worry about getting into trouble or hurting himself in some way or another. Even after he had done something wrong, he went back and did the same thing over and over again. He didn't care if he got into trouble, he lived for the excitement.


When Paul was beat to death, Norman, along with his father and mother, were speechless. Before Paul died, the world was a wonderful place to be, always wondering how to give help without knowing what to say. Norman talked about “what a beautiful world it was once. At least a river of it was,” found on page 56. Even though Paul was getting into trouble, the family was still together and that was all that mattered. Everyone cared about each other so much that when his life ended, things started to change. His father had trouble walking, his mother couldn't speak a word, and Norman put it on himself because he could never think of anything to say, but “a river, though, has so many things to say that it is hard to know what it says to each of us,” (page 102). Because the river speaks, it is like the mind, sometimes it can never think of anything to do, or say.


Time passes by and leaves its memories carved in the Earth. The markings have meaning, but the meanings are not known. “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs,” (page 104). The words are theirs, who's words are they? Thats what is not understood. Just understanding who he's talking about, is hard, is it Norman, Paul, or perhaps God. Maybe the markings are the memories made by the family, and they will be in the river forever, where God wanted them to be.


The novella was great, filled with metaphors. It was a great one to read and think about to understand that things in life have meaning, no matter what the things may be, someone can relate.





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