The Monotony of Life in The Swimmer, by John Cheever

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Throughout the story, John Cheever uses the the literary device of symbolism to illustrate the theme of a cyclic human experience that erodes away every day. Throughout the story "The Swimmer," Cheever uses this device to represent a plethora of symbols. For example, the main and initial symbol perceived in everyones minds are the aqua swimming pools. While wasting the day drinking at his neighbors house, he has an epiphany to swim through all the pools on the path back home. Before this however, the main character, Neddy, complains about the days where everyone just moans that they drank too much last night. The day is tedious, and nothing out of the ordinary occurs on the horizon. Neddy's trip turns out to be not much different. For that every pool the stereotypical suburban scrub swims through, he only just goes through a period of time and monotony. These pools are all the same, and when he comes out the other side of one, he isn't even aware of what has just passed. Analyzers of this poem have muttered, “He has been swimming in the Westerhazys' pool. And what does one swim in a pool but repetitious laps? Even the stroke he uses is repetitious” (Blythe & Sweet). This is backed up by Cheever's writing: "He swam a choppy crawl, breathing either with every stroke or every fourth stroke and counting somewhere in the back of his mind the one-two one-two of a flutter kick" (Cheever). Cheever’s intentions along with Blythe and Sweet in these quotes are that nothing is new, everything is the same. For that many can relate to this idea, and for that everyone is a swimmer in their own way. Swimming unvaried strokes in similar pools of lost time and repetition. It is evident that nature manifests the passage of time. The eroding mountai... ... middle of paper ... ...His family and friends distance themselves away from him for that he has disappeared from their lives. Blythe and Sweet mention that “Time, despite Neddy's attempts through repetition to stop it, has not been standing still.” He visits every house, greets the husband wife the same, and does the same swimming style to leave. Over time, he realizes people getting more hostile to his loving gestures. It reaches a new level when “he visits the Welchers', only to find the pool drained, the furniture folded and stacked, the bathhouse locked, and their house for sale” (Cheever). Neddy wonders ‘how his friends could leave without telling him. When he gets home cold and tired, all he wants is to be greeted by his beautiful wife and energetic children. The opposite occurs when he looks in the window to see cruel darkness. As his loved ones leave his life, so does his sanity.

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