John Cheever The Swimmer Summary

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Throughout history, people have been in pursuit of a ‘currency’ to assess a person’s worth. According to Merriam-Webster, “currency” is defined as a “circulation as medium of exchange.” The ancient Babylonians used silver and grains, the Romans used copper, silver, and gold to assess their worth. Then, there was a radical shift to paper and coin currency as well as ownership of high value commodities like fur, fish and grains to compute worth. However, towards the mid 20th century, America saw the gradual establishment of a revolutionary form of assessing worth, namely societal respect in addition to the monetary worth of a person. The 90s, known as the era of the “.com boom” because of the discovery and the prevalence of the internet as a powerful media tool for the masses, also marked the birth of a new generation called ‘Generation Z (iGen)’. This
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This was a generation highly influenced by the war and the Great Depression of the 30s. As a result, monetary worth was a crucial factor in determining one’s worth besides smaller factors like contribution to wartime efforts. This can be illustrated by an excerpt from the short story, “The Swimmer” by John Cheever. In the story, the protagonist swims through different pools in an attempt to characterize suburban lifestyle. In the process, he reaches the Biswangers’ pool and remembers that he didn’t socialize with them a lot, because of their social standing. However, on reaching their pool he notices everyone including the bartender treated him poorly which makes him speculate that his social standing was worse than the Biswangers’. The protagonist’s suspicion proves correct when Grace Biswanger mentions an instance where someone loses all their money and asks her for a loan. Nonetheless, this is a stark contrast to the current generation which uses different indices to measure a person’s
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