Alcoholism In The Swimmer, By John Cheever

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In “The Swimmer,” John Cheever portrays the emotional state of an alcoholic as he devolves further into his addiction. The story follows a man called Ned Merrill who lives in a suburban neighborhood with his wife and kids; in the story, he decides to swim across town using all the pools in the area, and he encounters many of his neighbors during the journey. In this paper, I will argue that Ned’s journey swimming through the pools represents his devolution into alcoholism. This portrayal is important because Cheever uses it to show the negative impacts the fake, shallow suburban lifestyle of the 1950s had on residents. After the war in the 1950s, there was a rise in alcoholism, arguably due to the fact that many Americans felt they had no identity …show more content…
In the beginning, Mrs. Graham happily offers Ned drinks and treats him like nothing is wrong, but as the story goes on, neighbors become more reluctant to give him alcohol, and the Biswanger couple, who are normally desperate for Ned to come to their party, treat Ned like a second-class citizen, calling him a gate crasher. Alcoholics tend to (intentionally or not) alienate friends to the point where they stop wanting to spend time with them. The social alienation is what really starts waking Ned up to the fact that he has a twisted sense of reality, even if he never realizes it’s from alcoholism, and this is John Cheever’s way of criticizing how self-involved and conscious of others opinions people in the suburb were at the time.
The swimming pool journey in John Cheever’s short story entitled “The Swimmer” symbolizes the main character’s alcoholism. By using this strange, time-warped story with limited details and a surprise ending, Cheever portrays what its like to be an alcoholic. Cheever did this because alcoholism was quite rampant at the time, and also because it serves as a good criticism of suburban

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