The Swimmer is one of the collections written by John Cheever and appears in the book collection named The Brigadier and the Golf Widow, it is one of the best short stories written by this author. This short story was written by John Cheever after alcohol took a toll on his life, in the succeeding years after publishing this book, the author personal and professional relationships were destroyed (Cheever, 727). Therefore, this short story is based on a contextual approach where alcohol seems to be the order of the day, one case of drunkenness after the other is evident throughout the story.
One of the vivid techniques that the author concentrates on is the plot. The short story is on a Sunday afternoon probably on a midsummer, Helen, Neddy, Donald Westerhazy and Lucinda Merrill are sited comfortably at Westerhazys pool, each expressing their sincere complain about the unending hangovers. All of them are in a drunken stupor, and they are still drinking. Neddy feels happy, young and energetic, he considers himself as an explorer (Cheever, 729). The pool, in this case, is symbolic; the author uses the pool to illustrate the drunken nature of the society. The society is drowned in a pool of drunkenness, all of the characters presented in this context are on a regular drinking spree.
In addition, the symbol is another technique that present itself out of this story; the several swimming pools that Neddy swims through are symbolic throughout the short story; these pools represent the periods of hard and difficult times that Neddy undergoes. At the onset of this story, it is evident that Neddy is energetic, active and has full contentment of how he is living his life, all of his friends admires his lifestyle. The legendary figure explained in this story shows the unending efforts empowered to him to lead his life perfectly without any hindrance (Cheever & Merryl, 22). The progress from one swimming pool to the next shows plenty of transformations, Neddy's physique grows weak and uses a ladder to pull himself out of the swimming pool. Neddy transforms from his normal warm body to chillness that hits to the bone
Neddy's new surrounding include that of cooler days; the old sunny days are long gone. The constellations transform to the autumn season; the trees begin to lose all of their leaves. Similarly, his entire social circle has totally changed. The bartender snubs him at her party; Grace Biswanger does the same too. More so, the respect that he was being accorded before is all gone. Neddy goes through all the changes from one pool to the other unwittingly.
The changes in weather and season mirrors on the changing life circumstances of Neddy, this include deterioration in his security and comfort. The story begins exposing Neddy to being on a pleasurable and a journey full of happiness. Similarly, as he traverses from one swimming pool to the other, it is evident that Neddy is enjoying good temperature both inside the water and when out of the water. A turning point in Neddy's life is met when a storm passes on, he finds himself lonely, and soon after the storm, the warmth disappears. The yellow and red leaves left on the ground after the storm are symbolic representing a fall. More so, his turning point is also hit by wavering instances of weather and season. Neddy transform from m being a robust traveler and changes to a pathetic figure by the highway. As Neddy's happy moments in life closes on, the entire season's cycle shuts down as well.
Themes are used by the author as the main component of literary analysis; one of the evident themes from The Swimmer is the inevitable passage of time. The journey that Neddy lead from one swimming pool to the neighbors pool shows explicitly turns into a journey over time, this explains the passage of time that is being inevitable as time progress on irrespective of how one might perceive (Cheever, 728). Neddy has exhausted all principles related to the art of denial. Neddy presents himself as a young chap through diving headlong into the swimming pool and sliding down a banister. The idea that Neddy develops on his mind to swim home is one of many other similar ideas that he has formulated over time.
The journey that Neddy is leading is advancing at a quick pace than he can imagine. The constellations in the sky change, the leaves turn to yellow and red, and the air turns cold and dense. Neddy feels deserted, all of his friends are not there at a time he needs them most, the people that he was scorned are paying back now by scorning him too. More so, his mistress is not interested in him anymore; he also learns at a later time that his close friend has been very sick. Neddy questions the level of revolution that friends and society is turning up against him and yet they used to be very close.
Similarly, another theme that presents itself out of The Swimmer is the emptiness of Suburbia. Despair and emptiness dwell on the sunny facade of suburbia. Isolation is the order of the day despite his feeling that everything he does and goes through makes him happy and full of life. Neddy has kept a rift between him and his friends; he has also turned down plenty of friends invites. Neddy does not even recall that Mrs. Levy bought for hum Japanese lanterns (Cheever, 729). He leads a life full of social trappings from fake friends; he does not have genuine friends within his friend's circle. At every destination that Neddy finds himself within, drinking is the order of the day, this show that they are drinking in order to escape from a given reality or hide from something. One of the main motif used in the short story is alcohol; this is the main element that aids in distortion of time and also Neddy's actual sense of unhappiness. The major motivators and driving factors evident from Neddy's social standing are drinking, serving and desire for alcohol. The beginning of this story presents a picture of how everyone is suffering from a hangover, and better yet still they are continuing with their drinks. New swimming pools welcome Neddy with new types of drinks (Cheever, 726).
The messy confusion and understanding of happiness that takes a toll on Neddy's life is arrived at through the use of several maps and exploration that are highlighted in this short story. Whenever Neddy develop an idea to swim home through the various swimming pools located in his county, he considers himself a brave explorer leaving behind a life that is more stable and secure. In addition, Neddy's envision his friends swimming pool through a mapmakers eye; he is void of sense direction and place.
Cheever, John, and Meryl Streep. Essential John Cheever. New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins, 2006. Sound recording.
Cheever, John. Collected Stories and Other Writings. New York: Library of America, 2009. Print.
Cheever, John. The Stories of John Cheever. New York, NY: Knopf, 1978. Print.
Cheever, John. Vintage Cheever. New York: Vintage Books, 2005. Print.
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