Essay It River Run Through

Summary: Analyzes and compares the film and literary versions of A River Runs Through It. Provides a plot summary and discusses the relationship between brothers Paul and Norman Maclean.


In the film "A River Runs Through It" the Blackfoot River played a copious role in the lives of Norman and Paul Maclean. 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 of been eminently weak. If there was a problem in their relationship, it could of 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.

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A River Runs Through It Essay

466 Words2 Pages

A River Runs Through It

     Fly fishing is not what this story is all about, although it might seem so at first. Neither is it about religion, even though the father’s first line is: "In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing." Yes, these two things are themes that run through the story and add to its power. But there is so much more. It depicts a place of beauty, history, myth, and mystery, it is a triangle of earth in Montana where the writer grew up. And it captures a space of time in the not-so-distant past with a sensitivity that is both witty and poetic. Robert Redford loved this story and turned it into a handsome movie. Read it yourself or watch the movie, and you…show more content…

     The story traces the relationship between two brothers growing up in an emotionally constricted household headed by a Presbyterian minister. The scholarly Norman follows in the footsteps of his stern, stoic father, going to college, marrying and settling down. His older brother Paul, daring, handsome and athletic, chooses the more glamourous career of newspaper journalist. These two very different brothers are brought together through the years by a mutual love of fly fishing instilled in them by their unyielding father. As Norman watches his brother's seemingly charmed life dissolve under the influences of gambling and alcohol, the art of fly fishing becomes a touching metaphor for the love their father was unable to express in any other way.
     The events of this story are simple enough; the narrator, and his younger brother, Paul, have learned from their father the art of fly fishing. The narrator’s wife and mother-in-law ask both brothers to take a never do well brother-in-law fishing, as if fishing might somehow cure the brother-in-law of fool-headedness and personal failure. But the fishing trip gets all mixed up with too much drinking and a loose woman, and ends up with the narrator in trouble with his wife and mother-in-law, for not having taken finer charge of the brother-in-law. They should have saved him from his own proclivities for drinking, and cheating on his

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