A River Runs Through It

I write a lot about being a sister, and I am always looking at sibling relationships in both real life and in literature. One of the most memorable portrayals of a sibling relationship is in Norman Maclean’s novella A River Runs Through It. (It is also in my top ten of best movies ever made.) I learn something new about both writing and being a sibling every time I re-read this classic book. One of the great “lessons” of the book is the despair of never being able to “save” a beloved brother, but also, finally, acceptance that this was so.

One passage from the book that I particularly love: “Yet even in the loneliness of the canyon I knew there were others like me who had brothers they did not understand but wanted to help. We are probably those referred to as ‘our brothers’ keepers,’ possessed of one of the oldest and possibly one of the most futile and certainly one of the most haunting of instincts. It will not let us go.”

My brother’s keeper is one of the most familiar phrases in our civilized society. But what about my sister’s keeper? Is there a rule book for this stuff, or are we all just winging it? Maybe my family of six sisters is just standard-issue dysfunctional, and we are all walking around trying to figure out our lives, and putting on a good face. As the oldest of the six sisters, I have always felt the fierce obligation of sisterhood, or “the haunting instinct” that will also, like Maclean, not let me go…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s