A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean Summary & Study Guide by BookRags
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Norman is a man who grew up in Montana and has lived a life close to nature. In A River Runs Through It, Norman is approaching middle age and still finds fly fishing to be an enjoyable pastime with his brother, Paul. Norman and Paul spend a great deal of time fishing together even though their lives run in different directions. Norman admires Paul's expertise at fly fishing and finds himself often overshadowed by his brother's skills. Paul does not try to criticize Norman's shortcomings as a fisherman, however, which makes it difficult for Norman to discuss with Paul his behavior outside of the world of fishing. Norman knows his brother needs help as his drinking is beginning to interfere with the rest of his life, but Norman cannot speak to Paul about it because he feels that he does not know his brother well enough to criticize.
Fly-fishing stands for life in this movie. If you can learn to do it correctly, to read the river and the fish and yourself, and to do what needs to be done without one wasted motion, you will have attained some of the grace and economy needed to live a good life. If you can do it and understand that the river, the fish and the whole world are God's gifts to use wisely, you will have gone the rest of the way. This memory of a Western childhood was first told in a book published some 20 years ago by Norman Maclean, after he retired as a professor of English at the University of Chicago. It was a story his father told him he should some day try to write.
It was the first work of fiction published by the University of Chicago Press. It received widespread acclaim upon its publication and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Letters in , but the selection committee ultimately did not award the prize in that category that year. Two of the stories were later adapted into feature films. It is a story about Maclean and his brother, Paul, who was beaten to death with a gun butt in It is about not understanding what you love, about not being able to help.