A River Runs Through It Pages 79-104 Summary & Analysis

Norman MacLean

A River Runs Through It

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A River Runs Through It Pages 79-104 Summary & Analysis

Pages 79 – 104 Summary

Paul and Norman are joyfully welcomed by their parents. Paul and his mother take center stage: their reunion is particularly poignant. Norman asks their father to go fishing with them the next day. He is thrilled to be asked.

Paul cannot bear to stay at home for even one night; he leaves just as his parents are going to bed to meet up with some friends. While Mrs. Maclean goes to bed, Norman and his father stay up and talk. Reverend Maclean wants to discuss Paul and what Norman knows about Paul’s troubles. Rev. Maclean says that in order to help someone, you must give of yourself to someone who wants help. Norman admits that he doesn’t know if Paul needs help or not. Their consolation is that at least they can all go fishing together.

Paul makes breakfast for them all the next morning, after a night of drinking. Soon they head out to the river. They leave their father in a calm stretch of the river to fish, and Paul asks Norman to fish with him. Typically, they separate to fish.

Norman watches the river carefully before starting to fish. He notices that Paul isn’t catching anything yet. He chooses his fly carefully—a large, flashy bug that Paul often made fun of in the past. Soon he is bringing in Rainbow trout after Rainbow trout, while Paul gets nothing. To ruin his fishing, Paul throws rocks into Norman’s fishing hole, because he’s jealous of Norman’s success. Norman is feeling “more perfect” (89) every minute.

Then they move down to the next hole, where Paul starts catching fish and gives Norman a fly like the one he is using successfully. The two men fish together, competing, but also helping one another. Norman stops fishing when he has caught ten fish. He says that three of the fish are the finest he ever caught, because they were the ones he caught with the fly his brother gave him and the last fish that he caught when fishing with his brother. He goes to sit with his father and talk.


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