Teaching, it’s an art unto itself. An art more common than not that is ill reputed by the “students” that need enlightenment. So much in fact, the country itself has been diminished in quality of education and information retainment its children in pre-secondary education. A fact that does hold true though, is the uncanny ability for a parent to teach a child (Father to Son), and for the child to cling to the gathered ideas for improvement though his or her life.
I feel as if the somewhat cult followed book A River Runs Through It best shows this though its metaphorical implications involving the father teaching the two sons (Norman and Paul); not only does he teach the children how to cast a fly, read waters, and catch fish, he uses the time (in his life and on the Blackfoot) to teach them of God, life, and living, in contrast to the modern family, often fatherless. It truly represents something very ideal to us Americans, having a father who is idolized, fishin’ on the river with pa’, learnin’ more than just fishin’, but about life.Early in the book we learn that the father of the two boys relative to modern times is a very traditional Presbyterian minister who interjects as well as teaches God very much to his broods. In fact on right at the beginning, “In our family there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing… His chief way of recharging himself was to recite to us from the sermon that was coming, enriched here and there with selections from the most successful passages of his morning sermon.
Even so, in a typical week of our childhood Paul and I probably received as many hours of instruction in fly fishing as we did in all other spiritual matters. MacLean 1 &2) Right away we see a man who, by nature of career choice is pre-determined to teach and enlighten others, and what better test subjects than his children? In the following paragraph we see another key aspect of any good mentor, the ability to teach by letting the learners know of the subtle but so very important things that are going on behind the scenes, per say. “As he buttoned up his glove in preparation to giving us a lesson, he would say, “It is an art that is performed on a four-count rhythm between ten and two o’clock. ”… So my brother and I learned to case Presbyterian-style, on a etronome” (MacLean 2 & 4) This of course was the fathers way of teaching Paul and Norman the style, grace, and discipline needed to properly cast, in the words of Norm, “The four-and-a-half ounce thing in silk wrappings that trembles with the under skin motions of the flesh.
” (MacLean 3) Being a parent, especially one such as Norman’s commands a certain degree of respect, but a different kind than that of say their mother. Yes I’m sure they respect their mother for completing all her “motherly duties”, as we all know though the mother-son(s) relationship is much different than the father-son(s) relationship.Paul and Norman recognize this and to a point they seem to put the father in a classification similar to idol. They idolize and respect him for being a good mentor; they repay him for this by taking him out on the Blackfoot for what tragically becomes the last time.
“I said to Father, “We’d appreciate it if you would go fishing with us tomorrow. ”…The minister looked as if his congregation had just asked him to come back and preach his farewell sermon over again. ” (MacLean 79) Surely this last line shows the excitement, anticipation, happiness, and gratitude of the old man.The end of the book is the time when we find out that Norman is extremely respectful and close to his father. That even near the end of his life the father is not done trying to teach his son. In the closing of the book, after we find out about Paul’s death, “Once, for instance, my father asked me a series of questions that suddenly made me wonder whether I understood even my father whom I felt closer to than any man I have ever known.
“You like to tell true stories, don’t you? ” he asked, and I answered, “Yes I like to tell stories that are true. Then he asked, “After you have finished your true stories sometime, why don’t you make up a story and the people that go with it? Only then will you understand what happened and why. It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us. ” (MacLean 103 & 104) These are strong words from a frail man, even nearing the end of his life, still teaching his son, the son admitting that he has a closer bond to him than any other man; the father never giving up on educating a person that he loves and cares for so much, his own son.
Norman and Paul’s father is truly representative of a thing that seems to be lost in the over-the-top busy world of 2012, the great American teachers of the past, more often than not the only teachers of many families. This not only many ring a bell with many readers but strikes a personal note with me. I am in the heating, ventilation, and air condoning business that my dad started when he was just a few years older than me, and just like Father in A River Runs Through It, they both are parent, mentor, and friend. The father truly is a great American metaphor.