Symbolism In The Swimmer By John Cheever

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“The Swimmer” by John Cheever is a contemporary short story that shows the reader the predicament of a man that loses his friends, his family, his respect, and his possessions while being obsessed with his hobbies and social persona. Colour is a dominant metaphor featured in the short story. The first metaphor for colour is the colour of the water in the pools or the colour of the “Lucinda River” are symbols for the protagonist’s age and reality catching up with him, and the second metaphor featured in the short story is the changing seasons and weather are seen as symbols for time passing faster and the protagonist’s imminent plight. Both of these metaphors and symbols show how you can have everything in the world and lose it all so quickly. …show more content…
The colour of the water is first seen as a shade of light green, which is seen by the protagonist as “to be embraced and sustained by the light green water was less a pleasure” (Cheever, 91). The colour light green and green in general is usually seen as a colour that is vibrant, youthful, and full of life, and as the reader we see at the beginning of the story, Neddy thinks of himself as young and a legendary figure, even though we are told he is far from young (Cheever, 90). As the story progresses the Lucinda River’s water gets darker, it turns a shade of sapphire blue, which is a symbol of his age catching up with him due to the fact that he loses his youthful strength and doesn’t have enough strength to pull himself out of the pool and must use the ladder, which he never uses (Cheever, 97). In essence, the colour of the water was a symbol for Neddy’s age and his reality catching up with …show more content…
In the beginning of the story we see Neddy and his friends drinking on a nice and sunny summer day, for Neddy’s perception it’s sunny because he has spent all his life blocking out his problems (Cheever, 90). The colour yellow is predominantly linked with sunshine, happiness, and joy, which would make sense because he is happy while he is blocking out his problems and his own past. As he begins his journey, for the readers it becomes a journey through many years of his life, it quickly turns from sunshine to a storm, and in this moment everything becomes very blue and sad, but once the rain stops, “Leaves were falling down around him and he smelled wood smoke on the wind”(Cheever, 95), which suggests that the hot yellow summer quickly turned into a cold, red and yellow leaf fall. By the end of the story the reader can determine that when Neddy reaches his final destination, his house, that the next season will be winter. The main colour of winter is the colour white, as the readers you could associate white with the end of Neddy’s life. The colours of the quickly changing seasons within a afternoon symbolize Neddy’s life catching up with him and will foreshadow his plight, and ultimately his

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