Relationships in A River Runs Through It

Examines the theme of brotherly bonding in Norman MacLean’s novel.

This paper examines the relationships between the two brothers in Norman MacLean’s novella “A River Runs Through It”. The paper goes on to show how MacLean makes use of his writing to reflect on his past and to interpret it. The paper highlights how MacLean’s numerous, detailed descriptions of his river and fly-fishing anecdotes convey the relationship between Norman and his father and express the love between him and his brother.
This novella is regarded as an autobiography of MacLean himself, and the name of the characters are the names of those of MacLean’s life. It bears resemblance to MacLean’s own life. Like the main characters, MacLean (b. Clarinda Iowa December 23, 1902) grew up in Montana, alongside his younger brother Paul. Both brothers were educated, until 1913, by their father, a Scotch Presbyterian minister and did not attend public schools. This experience echoes in the first twenty pages of A River Runs Through It.
In his youth, MacLean worked as a logger. In 1924, he received an AB from Dartmouth and began teaching there. He continued to graduate school in English in the University of Chicago in 1928, and later became part of the faculty until he retired in 1973. He married Jesse Burns, a fellow Scottish Montanan, from Helena. The couple had two children.”