The Swimmer By John Cheever Essay

624 Words 3 Pages
John Cheever’s story “The Swimmer” depicts a protaganist, and the society that has nurtured him, as lacking in seriousness and responsibility. Neddy, the bewildered protagonist, represents a society satirized for centering its values on social status and materialism. During the course of Neddy’s journey, the illusions he has constructed about his life are stripped away, and in the process the truth behind his society is realized. In unveiling the tragedy of Neddy’s existence, Cheever reveals the unworthiness of an unexamined life.
The tragedy of Neddy’s presence leads to his own demise. Through an unique usage of tone, Cheever foreshadows the misfortunes of the protagonist. Stereotypically, the author hints at the fact that that wealthy
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In addition, elements of symbolism throughout the story exhibit the troubles of Neddy. The water, a symbol of the unconscious, represents the thoughts and actions of Neddy. Alcohol, a means of escape, lies as a threat to Neddy’s existence because he feels that “whiskey would... carry him through the last of his journey” (373-74). The storm represents a change from the confusion of Neddy into the truth about his existence.
The worthlessness of Neddy’s unexamined life ultimately forces him awy from reality. Initially, the characterization of Neddy and the society which he represents reveals the meaninglessness of both his life and that of the society. “My misfortunes? ....I don’t know what you mean,”(373) Neddy obliviously responds when receiving sympathy for his financial misfortunes that he seems totally unaware of. Due to the snobbish behavior accustomed to Neddy through his society, he is afraid that the public pool will “damage his own prosperousness and charm”(372) which he no longer possesses anyway. Furthermore, the constant usage of allusion remains evident throughout the story. Almost Fitzgerald-like in his descriptions of the “prosperous men and women,”(370) Cheever satirizes the society. Also similar to the works of Fitzgerald, the protagonists’ own wealth and power force his social decline. Importantly, symbolism also plays a role in describing the lifestyle of Neddy and the society of which he represents. The storm adds to

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