The Swimmer Symbolism

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John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” is a beautiful, multi layered depiction of a man's unwitting downfall. The story follows Neddy Merrill, a somewhat alcoholic and adventurous man, as he takes a expedition to go home by pool hopping the country. Neddy is the source of his own undoing as he represses years of his life pool by pool and eventually he has to come to terms with his life. Cheever poetically uses symbolism to indirectly show the changing of Neddy, his situation, and the world around him.
Neddy believes he is making a contribution to modern geography with his strange quasi- subterranean stream and names “the stream Lucinda after his wife.”(better not to end a sentence with a quote) This naming symbolizes to him the comfort and safety of
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The seasonal change and the weather symbolize his social status and his misfortunes. At the beginning Neddy is greeted warmly with his random appearances in people's backyards and is always “a marvelous surprise.” But when a storm appears upon Neddy, it and its percussive thunder starts his transformation to social outcast. People's gold and red leaves give him a “sadness at [the] sign of autumn.” This is the first time he is portrayed other than happy and could be his subconscious thinking of the hardships he is going through, because consciously he is unaware. His neighbours feel “terribly sorry to hear about all [his] misfortunes” even though he has no recollection of such adversity and “he had damaged his sense of the truth.” This is also the point where social he is rejected. He walks across the street and is “exposed to all kinds of ridicule” by being laughed at and having garbage thrown at him. Then the season changes to winter, and the winter of his life. He notices the pools have “a wintry gleam” and is weak, known as a “gatecrasher” and no longer a guest to his friends. The bartenders are no longer happy to see him, and the women he once had an affair with was confused too see him and wanted no part of his company. A cold defeated Neddy approaches his home, but finds a dark and empty vessel. Once a proud sight, but now winter has come and it is empty and rusted, just like
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