The Nightmare in Bullet Park

884 WordsJun 23, 20184 Pages
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…show more content…
For example, Howland “claim[s] to be a Mayflower descendant,” which ties in the idea of a successful journey (1). Neddy Merrill’s original goal appears a success, similar to the beginning of a dream—happy and eventful. Only when Neddy reaches the midway point of his journey do things begin to go awry. Fogelman believes that the thunderstorm marks the turning point in Neddy’s journey (2) as he begins to realize that he cannot find the imagined life he seeks. Oddly enough, Neddy feels a sense of relief from the storm and it encourages him to continue his journey with a renewed sense of purpose (“The Dream…” 9). Then the season shifts from summer to autumn and leaves change colors to further symbolize the downhill slope of Neddy’s journey. Cheever states that when Neddy sees the fallen leaves from the trees, he “[feels] a peculiar sadness at this sign of autumn.” Like the falling leaves, the pools Neddy visits near the end of the middle part of his journey become significantly deteriorated, thus foreshadowing the upcoming failed end to Neddy’s journey. The public pool at the recreation center requires Neddy to take a shower before entering and upon leaving the pool, Neddy feels slightly dirty. In another pool he visits, leaves and scum float on the surface, symbolizing the defeat accumulating as a result of
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