The Swimmer By John Cheever Essay

1056 Words Oct 4th, 2016 5 Pages
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 now that they lived in a suburb with people just like him which led to boredom and despair that they tried drowning out with alcohol. In the story, drinking is a central aspect of the neighbors’ lives because every social interaction that occurs depends on it, and the reader clearly sees Ned lose touch with reality as he becomes more and more reliant on the alcohol. The author uses Ned’s physical strength, the seasons and the weather, and Ned’s social relationships to portray his alcoholic decline.
At the beginning of the story, Ned was either in excellent shape or had delusions that he was, and he was very opinionated in that “…he had an inexplicable contempt for men who did not hurl themselves into pools” (158), a stark contrast…

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