The Nightmare in Bullet Park

Powerful Essays
Some of the first elements of quests that usually come to mind include dragons, knights in shining armor, searches for ornate hidden treasures, and fairytale endings; however, the word quest simply means a journey. Often times people go on a quest in search of something they desire, but as protagonist Neddy Merrill discovers, the quest does not always turn out as planned and instead leads the quester in the direction of self-discovery. In his 1964 short story “The Swimmer,” John Cheever depicts the disastrous downfall of a man who impulsively decides to journey home through a course of swimming pools, but instead unconsciously escaping reality.
Neddy Merrill abruptly decides to begin his journey home one Sunday afternoon during the summer while lounging around a friend’s pool after a night of lavish partying and drinking the previous night. His journey starts out promising as fluffy cumulous clouds and shimmering swimming pools guide him toward his destination. This bright, cheerful weather gives Neddy’s forthcoming journey an optimistic air. Bruce Fogelman suggests that at the beginning of his journey Neddy views his life similar to stagnant water, “static yet unconfined” (3). Neddy desires to escape what he sees as his normal, boring life even though he lives a quite comfortable middle-class life. He fails to appreciate what he has and instead goes out looking for bigger, better things. Robert M. Slabey also describes Neddy as an escapist, adding that Neddy has plenty of material items, but nothing ever fully satisfies him (3). These characteristics Neddy possesses make him look like a child, further demonstrated when Cheever describes Neddy as a man with “the slenderness of youth,” eager to swim home in an attempt to prove h...

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