The Swimmer By John Cheever

1424 Words6 Pages
In his story, The Swimmer, John Cheever does a clever job engaging the reader in understanding the complexity and change in Ned Merrill’s life circumstances through his travels to various pools. It is implied that Ned was once successful and had everything. He had a wife, named Lucinda, and children. He had a beautiful home and a circle of friends. It seemed like he had it all. However, his travel through pools and time, show the reader that Ned’s life is not all that it seems. At the time that story begins, Ned is visiting at a friend’s pool and decided to swim through all of the neighborhood pools until he arrives home. Cheever uses Ned’s journey in travelling to the pools and swimming in them to symbolize his life. At first, Ned…show more content…
Ned tried to justify his confusion by claiming that he needed another drink – he kept swimming. Ned’s arrogance is also revealed when he reacts to feeling slighted at the Biswanger’s party and when he is served rudely by their bartender. This is an ironic incident because at one point in his life, a more successful time in his life, Ned used to slight others and consider himself superior to others. At the midpoint of his journey, the Biswanger’s house, the reader begins to see that Need is being treated by others the way that he used to treat others. The reader also learns that Ned is in denial about his troubles when the Hallorans tell him they are, “sorry for his misfortunes” and he responds by saying, “My misfortunes? I do not know what you mean.” (p. 733) By the end of the story, Ned is unable to deny his troubles when he arrives to his empty house. The harsh reality of his solitude sets in. When he arrives home, he is locked out and nobody is there. Cheever reveals Ned’s fragile state of mind at this point, his reality of loneliness sets in and he is forced to acknowledge the fact that he is alone. Cheever reveals the reader that Ned is living through troubling times, enough to have his neighbors either worried about his wellbeing, or alienating him completely. When they talk about his misfortunes Ned is in denial that leads to him repressing the memories. At the end, he is not able to repress

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