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The River Warren and the Importance of Rivers In Our Lives
It was tradition. Every Sunday after church my dad, brother, and I would drive through the fields checking crops and whatever else made their homes in my father's fields. Then we'd drive down to the river to check how high or low it was, or to see how much worse the river was cutting into the land. The river flowed right at the end of the road, so my dad would always pretend he was going to drive straight into it. We live about one in a half miles from the Missouri River. We have our own private road that winds down to a small shoot that connects to it. Because of our closeness to the Missouri, I have grown to love and admire it. It is an enormous and amazing machine to me. I find peace and love for it. It's funny how much alike Jeff, Luke, (the two main characters in Kent Meyer's The River Warren) and I are towards our rivers. Their River Warren is my Big Missouri.
Luke goes to the river to clear his head, to think about things, and to find himself. He also uses it as a means of control over his father. Two-Speed does not see the river as Luke does. Luke also finds understanding when he's on the river. He knows his father does not feel the same about the river, and that's why he takes him there. His father is afraid of the river, and Luke sees how afraid he really is. Before getting into the boat, Two-Speed "lifted his head like fire in the air. He realized he was alone-with someone who couldn't be conned. The river worked on him. It flowed into the moment. He knew this was my place. I saw that he knew"(223). The reason Luke brought his father out was "so that he could try to make sense of things, to make him stay put for awhile, to get enough control to where he had to talk to me, and to where he had to answer questions"(232). Two-Speed can't find himself. He's been lost all his life, made excuses for his drinking, and pretended he was someone else all his life.
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Throughout my years growing up near the river, I have also found the river as a useful tool for understanding. As a young child, I had to create my own fun and learn to make use of my time. I'd often go to the river in my spare time, which I usually had plenty of. Sometimes I'd grab a fishing pole and wade my feet in the water while I waited for a fish to bite. This usually provided me with plenty of time to think and relax. I'd think about my family and problems I was going through with them, or I'd think about my boyfriend and how pointless it was to be dating him. Lastly, I'd just think about life in general anything, and everything I was dealing with or had to worry about. The river helped me to better understand my life, solve problems, and find peace with in my life.
Besides the river helping Luke to understand people, the River Warren also helped Jeff and Luke renew an old friendship. Jeff and Luke had been good friends in the last years of high school. They became distant and lost touch with each other once they graduated. Jeff moved off to another town and married soon after. It's too bad it took a death to get friends back together. Jeff and Luke went out on the river, just as they use to when they were younger. They have many memories together. Jeff remembers the times Luke, Angel Finn, and he would go out on the river at night, and Angel Finn would tell stories about the river. He would tell about the old river that had once roared through the valley, full of melted glacial water, larger than any river the world had ever known. He also recalls the time he and Luke him went on the river together with their bow and arrows. Luke misses a shot and connects the missed shot with his father. Jeff remembers that as the one time Luke ever talked about Two-Speed. Anyway, their friendship is renewed after Two-Speed's funeral. Jeff and Luke talk about being parents and how most kids just want their parents to change. Luke talks about his father and tells Jeff that all he wanted to do was change his father. Jeff recalls a time when Angel, Luke, and he were out on the river fishing. He tells about a time when he was standing where the cutbank leveled out. "It seemed for a moment to be the river rising out of itself, immensely old, and I felt the fear of something elemental and sacred"(127-128). Those couple of lines prove that Jeff even uses the river as an escape from problems.
The river renews a friendship in my life as well. I come from a very large family. It is very hard to keep in touch with all the members in my very large family. Once a year my entire family--aunts, uncles, grandpas, grandmas, cousins, and anyone else who has some kind of relation to me--meets at Lewis and Clark Lake. We go boating, have a picnic and talk about past family events and experiences. The Missouri River brings a very large family back together every year. The river is our connection to the rest of the family members. The river is a good place to restore connections because it offers a variety of recreational activities. At our reunions, my uncle or grandpa usually brings his boat. He takes about seven or so people out on it at one time to ski, swim, or just enjoy a nice boat ride. The rest of the family swims at the beach, plays volleyball, or just sits around the picnic area catching up on the news. The reason we meet here is because we can have fun, relax, and restore connections all at the same time.
Angel Finn sees a lot more than I have ever seen in the Missouri River. He uses the River Warren almost as his second job. He knows so much about it. Angel Finn is on the river so much he starts seeing more and thinking more about the river and what it really means. The river is a part of him. Angel Finn finds completeness and fulfillment through the River Warren. It offers peace, relaxation, and means of escape form problems. He knows so much about the River Warren. At one point in the story he gets a weird feeling that makes himself believe he is on the old river. Angel Finn knows the river. He knows the stars, smell of the wind and the land, and just the look of the river in general. He pays attention to the smaller details about the river, and he finds every little thing to be significant to the life of the River Warren. All these things give him his knowledge and understanding of the river.
In the River Warren, Kent Meyers expands way beyond my knowledge of the river. He makes his readers interested by giving us an unforgettable sense of place and community. For example, on page three of The River Warren, Angel Finn says, " You got to start with the river, with its drop and slope and attention to gravity, and with the land out here that it chains. You got to start, far as I'm concerned, with the rivers heart and how time piles up on the land, and how sometimes you'll see it all there, nothing lost, shining through the moment." This quote is a clear example of how Kent Meyers creates a sense of place and community. He proves the significance of the River Warren to the town of Cloten. After reading this novel, I have realized the importance and great significance that rivers have to small town communities. It is very clear that this novel is similar in many ways to my life and relationship with the Missouri River.