The Swimmer Narrative Structure

Good Essays
“The Swimmer” is a short story which follows a man named Ned Merrill as he swims home across the “River Lucinda”, a series of swimming pools that form a path to his home. It was adapted into a film titled The Swimmer, which remains quite faithful to the original work, but expands upon several aspects of the original short story. After being unable to swim through the Welchers’ pool due to their property being abandoned, Ned Merrill is forced to cross Route 424, a busy highway. “The Swimmer” follows an epic narrative structure, with Ned encountering several obstacles on his path home. The story is told in a third-person perspective and deconstructs many traditional epics by breaking down the genre into its base components and rebuilding…show more content…
While he waits, he is ridiculed by the various individuals passing by in their cars. It is stated that “he seemed pitiful”, which combined with the abuse he faces from the people on the highway starkly contrasts with Ned’s perception of himself as a legendary figure. The highway and the cars on it are used as a substitute for a raging river, which is an obstacle that heroes must overcome in many epic stories. The “river” of cars may also symbolize the passage of time. Ned has difficulty both in crossing the busy highway and moving on from his past. Ned remains stationary on the side of the road, and then in the grass divider in the middle of the highway. He is staying in one spot both in his mind and in reality while the world moves on around and ridicules him. This scene also further solidifies the overall conflict of the story as person versus self. As Ned waits for a chance to cross the highway, he begins to question the purpose of his odyssey. Although it started out as an arbitrary challenge, Ned feels compelled to continue on his journey despite the obvious danger of the highway in front of him. Both Ned and the reader begin to further question Ned’s sensibility, as any sane individual would turn around. This is an early indicator that this journey is more than a game for Ned. To this end, Ned is both the protagonist and primary antagonist of the
Get Access