A River Runs Through It Pages 56-78 Summary & Analysis

Norman MacLean

A River Runs Through It

  • 25-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features an extended summary and 6 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by an experienced high school teacher with a PhD in English Literature
Access Full Summary

A River Runs Through It Pages 56-78 Summary & Analysis

Pages 56 – 78 Summary 

Neal insists that he wants to go fishing with Paul and Norman, but he didn’t bring any fishing gear other than his bait can, which is useless for fly fishing. Paul and Norman drive Neal and Old Rawhide to the place on the river that they want to fish. Paul and Norman bury bottles of beer along the river. Neal decides to “fish” in a spot on a sandbar near the parked car.

Paul and Norman move further down the river in search of good fishing spots. Paul admits that he knows that he should move away from Montana in order to stay out of trouble. Then, he immediately returns to talk of the weather and fishing. The two men separate to fish.

Norman searches for the right place to catch a fish, but nothing is biting. He finds a dead beaver surrounded by bees and catches fish by putting an imitation bee on his line. Relieved that he has caught four decent-sized fish—now he won’t be embarrassed in front of Paul—he sits on the river bank, trying to forget his troubles, and meditatively becomes one with the river.

When Paul returns, they go in search of the beer they have left cooling in the river. All four of their stashes are empty. They know that Neal and Old Rawhide have taken their beer. Paul and Norman find the two of them passed out, stark naked, face down, and bright red from sunburn, on the sandbar in the middle of the river. It is a vision that neither Paul nor Norman will ever forget.

Because they are too burned to put their clothes on, they ride naked in the back seat, at the risk of being seen by people in town or the police. They drop Old Rawhide off at the edge of town. Paul is so angry that their river has been defiled by Neal and Old Rawhide that he runs after her, kicking her in the behind. Norman runs after her too, but he misses. Neal and Norman both dread going home and facing “three…

This is just a preview. The entire section has 723 words. Click below to download the full study guide for A River Runs Through It.