Alcoholism In The Swimmer

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"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is aware" (brainyquote.com). This quote connects to John Cheever 's short story, "The Swimmer". This short story contains various ideas such as suburbia and alcoholism. One of the most important ideas portrayed in “The Swimmer” is that time is inevitable. Cheever was born in May 1912, in Massachusetts (“John Cheever”). Cheever is sometimes referred to as the “Chekhov of suburbs” (“John Cheever”). Anton Chekhov was a highly regarded author, known for his themes of banality and randomness ("Chekhov, Anton Pavlovich, 1860-1904"). Late in his life, Cheever suffered from a heavy drinking problem, which likely influenced this story (“John Cheever”). In “The Swimmer”, Neddy Merrill is…show more content…
The names of the neighbors whose pools Neddy swims through is especially important when analyzing the story. On his swim, Neddy travels the pools of “the Grahams, the Hammers, the Lears, the Howlands, and the Crosscups. He would cross Ditmar Street to the Bunkers and come, after a short portage, to the Levys, the Welchers, and the public pool in Lancaster. Then there were the Hallorans, the Sachses, the Biswangers, Shirley Adams, the Gilmartins, and the Clydes” (Cheever). It is evident that Neddy’s treatment corresponds with whose pool he swims in. During the first half of his trek, Neddy 's neighbors treat him with hospitality. These neighbors are people of a higher social standing, English, German, and Scottish (Byrne). These persons also own greater pools than seen in the rest of the story. After the halfway mark of the journey, the Levys, there is a shift in ethnicity and Neddy’s reception. While the remaining Jewish and Irish neighbors are caring and welcoming, this may be due to their nonconformism and general exclusion due to social status (Byrne). In fact, the Hallorans are nudists and even though to be Communists. However, the English and German neighbors found in the second half, rebuff Neddy for dropping in unannounced (Byrne). Although, the higher class neighbors treat Neddy nicely, those with a lower social standing are more empathetic. This may be due to them…show more content…
It seems that the water leads Neddy to go through a revival as evident in the quote, “It was probably the first time in his adult life he cried” (Cheever). After swimming through the various pools, Neddy cries, showing that the water caused him to go through a major change. According to Champion, “water symbolizes cleansing or a rebirth experience. In this story, water might represent a sort of rebirth for Neddy. At the beginning of the story, Neddy is disillusioned and unable to comprehend that he has moved and that he is experiencing financial problems. However, by the end of the story, it is apparent that he has been in a state of self-denial.” Not only does the Lucinda River lead Neddy to self-realization, it reveals to the reader the state of denial Neddy was in. Neddy’s suppressed memories eventually reveal themselves, although he did not want them to do so. Neddy’s attempts to run away from his problems, ultimately fail and leave him outside his house, in tears. Although there are many different varieties of figurative language found in "The Swimmer", imagery may be one of the most important. The different scenes that can be imagined through the use of imagery help the reader see what Neddy sees, such as the change in seasons. The change of seasons is an important aspect of the theme in this short
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