The river and fishing made such a big impact on the Maclean family that it is the root of this book. The Macleans compared the river to life, went fishing to answer questions, and created a river that has a past full of memories. The river and fishing become metaphors for life by having a life of its own.
When the Macleans, especially Norman speaks of the river they are also referring to life, their lives, and themselves. When Norman couldn't catch any fish on the open river Paul declares,
"Brother," he said, "you can't catch trout in a bathtub.
"You like to fish in sunny, open water because you are a Scot and afraid to lose a fly if you cast into the bushes.
"But the fish are not taking sunbaths. They are under the bushes where it is cool and safe from fishermen like you" (Maclean 42).
Norman defends himself by saying he will lose flies if he cast near the bushes. Paul wonders why he cares about losing flies that cost him nothing. "Nobody, Paul states, "has put in a good day's fishing unless he leaves a couple of flies hanging on the bushes. You can't catch fish if you don't dare go where they are." That last sentence also applies to work, people, finding something or someone, and life itself. If people wait for good things to happen instead of going to where that thing is and doing something about it, they won't get anywhere. If people just sat around and waited for luck to come their way luck will pass on by. To pro...
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...offering him money or taking him fishing" (55). The memories of his brother and his whole family are in the river and every time he sees the river he sees his family. When the river splashes Paul is calling. When he casts into the open waters his father is watching. When he counts the four-count rhythm he hears his mother's metronome. And when he passes by a bush with flies around its leaves he'll remember a part, if not all, of his experiences.
The Macleans compared the river to life, went fishing to answer questions, and created a river that has a past full of memories. The river and fishing becomes a metaphor for life by having a life of its own. Sometimes there are fish for treasure, thoughts to keep, and lessons to learn. The river runs and runs and no one ever knows when or where it is going to stop. Then on an unfortunate day it will stop moving and dry out.
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