A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, dissects the aspect of family ties, family, tragedy, and forgiveness. These are ideals that transcend time and place. Perhaps that's the charm of this telling tragedy.
One theme that the author gets his point across and explains the value of family ties is family itself. The author teaches you that family is the only thing you can count on. Family is there for you when the going gets tough, unlike that of your friends. Even when you do not think that anybody cares about you, or what you are remember you can always turn back to family. For instance take Paul who loves street fighting. Paul's theory about fighting is "If it looks like a fight is coming, get in the first punch."(pg.8) Even though Paul fought more times than not, his father, mother, and brother never disowned him, or loved him any less, than if he would not have fought. That is the one thing you cannot count on your friends on. Throughout the novel Paul constantly drinks, except when fishing. "Although Paul did not drink when he fished he always started drinking when he finished fishing."( pg 16) Most of the time Norman went fishing with Paul so that way he could keep an eye on him, and also to get Paul home safely. Most of the time his friends would rather drink with him, or forget him even when they were not drinking, unlike that of your family. "The telephone rang at about two in the morning, and I heard a voice in it, which asked, "Are you Paul's brother?" I asked, "What is wrong?" The voice said, "I want you to come see Paul." "Who are you?" I asked. He said, "I am the desk sergeant, who wants you to come see your brother." He had called me to the station to have a talk. He said, "We are picking Paul up too much lately. He is drinking too much." (pg 25-26) This is another example of what family will do for you that you friends most certainly will not, and if your friends will then how many can you name?.