Setting: 1970's during the Vietnam war is going on and many men are going off to war. America is divided and our country doesn't even want to be in this war. They feel we are going to war just for a rumor of an attack on the U.S Maddox.
After our narrator just graduates college, he gets a draft notice for the Vietnam war. Which he strongly disagrees with but he doesn't want to disgrace his family and wants to be brave.
All of these things have him scared and He doesn't really know what to do. So he leaves for awhile, He doesn't really know where he's going just needs to get away and figure it out.
Our narrator ends up at The Tip Top Lodge which is just on the river by the border of Canada. There he meets a wise man named Elroy Berdahl. Elroy never judges him, just listens.
One day the narrator and Elroy are out on the river so close to the Canadian border. He feels very torn between fleeing to Canada and going to war but in doing so he would let himself down.
In the end he couldn't be an outlaw and did end up serving in the Vietnam war. Ever sense he did make the decision though he has felt like a coward for not standing up for what he believed in.