Relationships in Norman MacLean's A River Runs Through It
"Eventually the watcher joined the river, and there was only one of us. I believe it was the river." The river that Norman Maclean speaks of in A River Runs Through It works as a connection, a tie, holding together the relationships between Norman and his acquaintances in this remote society. Though "It" is never outwardly defined in the novella there is definite evidence "It" is the personality of the people and that the river is running through each individual personality acting as the simple thread connecting this diverse group of people.
With the help of the river these Montana residents are able to teach as well as learn from each other. Since the time of the Indians, fathers have been teaching sons the ways of the river and the Maclean family is no different. Paul and Norman learn from a young age first how to pray, read the Bible, and then fly fish from their father. For the Maclean family "there is no clear line between religion and fly-fishing" and their father is a Presbyterian preacher who incorporates all these lessons into the river. He carefully transitions from telling them "about Christ's disciples being fishermen" to teaching them "to approach the art (of fly-fishing) Marine- and Presbyterian- style" alongside the river. Along this river his sons receive "as many hours of instruction in fly fishing as in all other spiritual matters" making the river a pivotal part of everyday life.
"Although Paul was three years younger than Norman?he was already far ahead in anything relating to fishing" by their early teens. Paul quickly passes Norman and his father in skillful fishing but more than that he acquired more style. His father is very proud of his son's natural talent because they hold a mutual understanding and love of this river. As Paul grows older and takes on less attractive habits such as womanizing and drinking, the preacher is able to ignore them. This could have been because "as a Scot and a Presbyterian?he believed that man by nature was a mess and had fallen from an original state of grace" and so he had learned to "love completely without completely understanding." More than likely his father was...