This is how John Cheever put in the first paragraph of “The Swimmer”, with a gorgeous swimming pool surrounded by a lovely forest. In the story, John Cheever gives a large role on portraying iconic objects around Neddy Merrill to imply the society’s materialism. The story is based on Neddy’s epic whim: he intends to swim across the whole county to his house through different swimming pools. This idea may sound absurd, but Neddy appears as a heroic character who can conquer the impossible. During this trip, Neddy has met various people, and he gradually learns the miserable nature of his life. At the end, when Neddy finally arrives at the doorstep of his own house, he finds out the house is locked and empty. All his divine fantasies about his life are collapsed, leave him to be a poor, pathetic figure alone.
This is a strange but unique allegory because Cheever uses numerous metaphors in the story to unmask Neddy’s mendacious life. At the beginning of the story, Cheever describes Neddy as a healthy mid-age man who “seemed to have the especial slenderness of youth” (Cheever). Cheever first introduces his swimmer as a healthy man who looks younger than his age. Then, Cheever gives a childish name, Neddy, to a grown man to imply both this man’s psychological immaturity and physical vitality. In other words, Neddy’s visionary idea about swimming to home is not only a product of his childish mind, but also his strong desire to deny his failure. The difficulty of Neddy’s task reflects his concealed memori...
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... from a healthy, happy and wealthy man to a poor, lonely and pathetic one.
“The Swimmer” is a sad allegory. John Cheever uses subtle metaphors to criticize the pathetic people who live under the delusion that they can do anything, even when they have repeatedly been proved wrong. In the allegory, after Neddy has lost his properties, he also loses his relationships with his family and friends. He becomes a poor man who is mocked by everyone around him. Yet he still can’t wake up from his delusion of being successful and wealthy. However, Neddy is just a random example, and there are many other people who have the similar fates. Cheever writes this allegory to warn them that do not use delusions to escape from the reality. Although “The Swimmer” is a strange, loony allegory, the message it carries gives a straight, clean glimpse into the American society around 1960s.
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