Paul And Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It

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There is an old saying: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. But what if the person refuses to learn how to fish? The saying means that the best way to help someone is by helping them to help themselves, e.g. instead of always cooking for her son, a mother should teach him how to cook. Teaching a man to fish can feed him for a lifetime but you cannot help someone who does not want or accept help. It is like trying to teach a soccer player, who thinks he has the perfect shot, how to improve his shot; he does not think he needs help or is too arrogant to accept it therefore he will not improve. In the story “A River Runs Through It,” the two brothers Paul and Norman Maclean do not…show more content…
Some of it is related to his love to gamble. From a young age Paul was a gambler; starting as a thirteen-year-old trying to bet against anybody who would fish with him (Maclean 5), ending in high debts in big poker games (Maclean 23). One night Paul gets arrested for punching a man, who made a provocative statement about his girlfriend. The desk sergeant of that night warns Norman about Paul’s high debts: ”Besides he’s [Paul] behind in the big stud games at Hot Springs. It’s not healthy to be behind in the big game at Hot Springs” (Maclean 23). This night displayed more than one of Paul’s problems. One was his short temper. He punched a man who commented “Wahoo” at the sight of Paul and his half Native American girlfriend. Paul could have ignored the comment or tried to solve it without violence, by discussing it with the man, but he did not. His reaction was to punch the man. Also, it exposed Paul had debts in big poker games and the sergeant warned that it was not “healthy,” or safe, to be behind in those games. Big poker games attract dangerous and criminal players, such as mobsters. An angry mobster, or one who used Paul’s murder as an example to show that owing him money is a bad idea, is a possible reason for Paul’s murder. It also shows Paul’s theory to always throw the first punch when a fight might start. The reasoning is that most people are not as tough as they act or talk and with the…show more content…
He seems to recognize he needs to change something about his life or accept support. One example is when Paul, Neal, and the family of Neal’s wife all go on a fishing trip together. On the trip, Norman leaves his brother-in-law Neal alone and Paul thinks that was a mistake. When Norman defends himself, saying Neal does not even enjoy fishing, Paul responds: ‘But maybe what he likes is somebody trying to help him.’ I [Norman] still don’t understand my brother. He himself always turned aside any offer of help, but in some complicated way he was surely talking about himself when he was talking about Neal needing help. (Maclean 47) Paul is talking about himself when he says that Neal needs help and Norman understands this. That is not the only time Paul exposes the desire to change or the need for help. Another example is a conversation between him and Norman later in the story: ‘I should leave Montana,” he [Paul] said. ‘I should go to the West Coast.” I [Norman] had thought that, too but asked, ‘Why?’ ‘Here,” he said, ‘I cover local sports and personal items and the police blotter. I don’t have anything to

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