In John Cheever’s, “The Swimmer”, on a hot summer Sunday ,while sitting by the pool with his wife and neighbors, as they all complained about their hangovers, a man of higher status named Needy Merrill decides to get home by swimming through the pools in his county. 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 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. In “The Swimmer “, John Cheever uses setting to symbolize the meaning of the story.
One way Cheever uses setting symbolically, is by creating a season and weather change in the story. Cheever writes that when Needy realizes that the leaves are changing colors, he becomes sad. “The force of the wind had stripped a maple of its red and yellow leaves and scattered them over the grass and the water. Since it was midsummer the tree must be blighted, and yet he felt a peculiar sadness at this sign of autumn.”(Cheever 252) At the beginning of the journey it was a hot summer, gradually it turne...
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...r supper...He shouted, pounded on the door, tried to force it with his shoulder, and then, looking in the windows, saw the place was empty.”(257) Needy’s journey ended at a dark, lonely place; it was then he realized that he had no one left. Needy’s empty house was symbolic of the emptiness he now had in his heart.
The entire story was a symbol of Needy’s life. The setting in the story was symbolic to the way Needy was feeling. Needy’s life was diminishing right before his eyes, and he did not realize it. The different changes in the story represented how much Needy’s life had gradually changed over time. By reading the story the reader can tell that Needy was in a state of denial.
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
The main ideas that are expressed in John Cheever's The Swimmer, is how Neddy lives through a variety of stages of alcoholism and how they each affect his everyday life. In The Swimmer, Neddy takes daily swims through multiple swimming pools. This represents the journeys in his life. He goes from being cheerful to complete sadness and depression. When Neddy is or is not swimming also represents the emotions he is going through. For example, when Neddy is not swimming, he will feel down or angry for no apparent reason. Because of his alcohol addiction, he is usually looking for alcohol during this period of time. Once he has had a few drinks, he is feeling much better and is ready to swim again. “He needed a drink. Whiskey would warm him, pick him up, carry him ...
Blythe, Hal, and Charlie Sweet. “An Historical Allusion In Cheever's 'The Swimmer'.” Studies In Short
There are more clues and subtle hints that reinforce these statements, most correlating to her mental illness and self-perception. The statements made through the use of said symbolism turns this story into an interesting viewpoint of a psychological breakdown.
Cheever, John. "The Swimmer." The Northon Anthology American Literature. 8th ed. Vol. E. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. Print.
There are several elements of symbolism in the story; however, “The deeper levels of this story are disclosed by examining not only what is implied through the irony but also what is indicated by symbolism and repetition” (Holla...
In John Cheever’s short story, “The Swimmer” he conveys the transformation of the character through the use of the literary element of setting. The story begins in an American, middle class, suburbs. After what seems to be a night of partying and drinking. Neddy Merrill, the main character initially appears very optimistic; he has a perfect family, high social status and very few problems in his life. In spite of his age, he feels young and energetic therefore decides to swim across town through the neighborhood pools. However, his journey becomes less and less enjoyable as the day unfolds. The water become murky, uninviting and he becomes exhausted. Also the people in his surrounding become less cordial including his mistress who wants nothing to do with him. His voyage then comes to an end when he arrives to an empty, abandoned home. The central idea suggests that an unhealthy obsession with the materialistic aspects of life can lead to alienation.
The theme of this book is that the human capacity to adapt to and find happiness in the most difficult circumstances. Each character in the novel shows this in their way. For instance, their family is randomly taken from their home and forced to work but they still remain a close nit family. In addition, they even manage to stick together after being separated for one of their own. These show how even in the darkest time they still manage to find a glimmer of hope and they pursued on.
Poetry is used to send a variety of messages, either through its imagery, meaning, or by the poetic devices used. Each and every poem has something special and unique to offer to the reader, as long as the reader looks deep enough to find it. “Lone Bather'; written by A.M. Klein, and “The Swimmer'; by Irving Layton both offer such messages to the reader. At first glance, these messages seem surprising similar, but after further examination they are in fact strikingly different. The similarities are most evident in the imagery and use of poetic devices, however there are some cases where they are contrary. Meanwhile the differences are most obvious in the meaning, but due to the general similar themes of the two poems, some similarities are found.
In the short story “ The Swimmer,” John Cheever expresses the idea that Neddy Merrill can lose everything if he denies reality. Cheever achieves this by employing various symbols during Merrill's cross county journey. The main symbol is the climate. Cheever uses the changes in weather to distort the character’s sense of time and show the progression of Merrill’s life. In the beginning of the story the setting is described as a midsummer day and by the end of the story, Merrill is able to see the constellations of late autumn, meaning winter is near. The illusion of time allows the reader to understand the extent of Merrill’s state of denial, as his beliefs begin to contradict the reality around him. To emphasize Merrill’s state of denial, Cheever
John Cheever uniquely crafted the story “The Swimmer” by using a mix of surrealism and realism throughout the story. Most people when they read “The Swimmer” they have to reevaluate it to comprehend what is happening. The reason for that is because Cheever shifts between surrealism and realism so much that the reader does not even notice. The story starts out with Neddy being so strong and youthful, but as the story goes on he weakens and ages. When he was youthful Neddy decided to swim every pool in his neighborhood. As he ages and weakens, the pools get harder to swim and the seasons pass without him even noticing.
The Swimmer by John Cheever begins at Helen and Donald Westerhazy’s pool when Neddy Merrill makes the decision to journey eight miles home by swimming through a series of pools, he calls the “Lucinda River” (297) and walking when unable to swim. While he making his way back home, he stops at fourteen old friends’ houses and drinks before continuing on if possible. By the end of Neddy’s journey, he is exhausted and comes to the realization that he has lost not only his house but also his wife and daughters, and also his so-called friends and even a mistress. Cheever suggests that alcoholism is a destruction of life through the use of symbolism, imagery, and characterization.
Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. Ed. Joseph Terry. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc, 2001. 123-154.