Many Theories from Literary Critics: John Cheever’s The Swimmer

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“The Swimmer” is one of John Cheever’s most notorious short stories. John Cheever’s main character is a middle-aged, suburban man, named Needy Merrill. While sitting at his neighbors, the Westerhazy’s, pool, Needy decides that he will take a journey through his neighborhood swimming pools. When Needy first starts off his journey he feels young and enthusiastic; he is then greeted in a joyous manner by his neighborhood friends. Apparently, Needy is a well-known and respected man. As his journey progresses, he starts seeing red and orange leaves; he then realizes that it was fall. In the middle of his journey he starts to endure some turmoil, but he does not let that stop his journey. As his journey ends, Needy starts to come encounter with some people who constantly mention his misfortune and struggle with his family. Needy does not remember any of the turmoil that had been going on in his life, and starts to wonder if his memory is failing him. Towards the end, many of the people that came encounter with treated him rudely. Needy then realizes that something must have went wrong in his life. When Needy arrives home, he sees that his house is empty and that his family is gone. At the beginning of the story, Needy Merrill is unable to understand that he has moved and that he is experiencing financial problems. However, by the end of the story, apparently he has been in a state of self-denial. (Champion) In the story Cheever doesn’t begin the story by letting the reader know of Needy misfortune. In fact, he portrays Needy to be successful and well-liked by neighbors. Cheever never tells the reader what happened to Needy throughout his life; he creates a change in mood to help the reader infer what really happened. Critics have pointe...

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... Loren C. "'The Swimmer': A Midsummer's Nightmare." Studies In Short Fiction 24.4 (1987): 433. Literary Reference Center. Web. 2 May 2014.
Blythe, Hal, and Charlie Sweet. "An Historical Allusion In Cheever's The Swimmer." Studies In Short Fiction 26.(1989): 557-559. Humanities Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 2 May 2014
Blythe, Hal, and Charlie Sweet. "Perverted Sacraments In John Cheever's 'The Swimmer'." Studies In Short Fiction 21.4 (1984): 393-394. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 2 May 2014.
Champion, Laurie. "Literary Contexts In Short Stories: John Cheever's "The Swimmer." Literary Contexts In Short Stories: John Cheever's 'The Swimmer' (2006): 1. Literary Reference Center. Web. 2 May 2014.
Cheever, John, ”The Swimmer”, Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 12th ed. San Francisco: Longman, 2013.250-257

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