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“The Swimmer” by John Cheever Essay

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Updated: Mar 13th, 2020

The Swimmer is one of the short stories written by John Cheever, where the ideas presented at the beginning reasonably kicks off, but they happen to turn into total surrealism.

One of the main character who is presented as Ned happened to have been lounging more on his friends’ swimming pool where he unusually thought for the first time concerning the existence of other swimming pools present on his way towards his home.

There is a whimsical start of Ned’s way of swimming towards twilight season full of unrealities. In “The Swimmer” the reality paves the way towards surreal through the use of foreshadowing where there is a creation of the antagonistic world faced by Ned in every new swim.

To begin with, the author presents Ned as one of the noble people especially when he was graciously welcomed by Mrs. Graham by the fact that she had tried to reach him on the phone with no avail (Kennedy and Gioia 235).

He had decided to take the unconventional route towards his home through swimming instead of taking a drive where he receives boundless support. He is also stopped by other pool owners like the Mrs. Hammer of which at this point the author does not directly present the delusion faced by Ned.

At the fifth swimming pool, things start to unfold themselves on a-miss aspects. Ned’s wife had earlier called on behalf of him on the regrets of his unavailability to the party which he had been invited where he suddenly appeared.

Everything seemed to take a normal shape, but one wonders why she had to do that without his knowledge where the twilight of surreal is illustrated

Out from the party, a sudden storm breaks where the author presents second surrealism when Ned takes his cover while observing the storm at Levy’s gazebo. The author presents a pass of time where out of the storm, leaves happened to be scattered.

There is a leap which takes place from realism into surreal because it was just within a short time there happened to have a move from the midsummer into winter.

When Ned was finally home, he found that the storm had destroyed everything as his entire house had crumbled and empty meaning, there was nothing inside. By the fact that Ned had decided to go through swimming until he reaches home, he, therefore, enters into another swimming pool.

This swimming pool is much different from the others because it is dry as his house was crumbled by being on sale and empty as all had been packed and placed under a cover.

One of the most interesting parts which I like is about how the entire story is structured. Even though there are many swimming pools, each of them is presented differently in their description thus illustrating the lyrical meticulousness used.

In the literal understanding, it seems that the route that Ned took was just a matter of hours while it is quite a long time. Cheever succeeded in this by not mentioning the exact time of different episodes in the swimming pools.

He, therefore, uses the confusion of time to deliver his long story short. In the story, Cheever would at different instances give one a clue on the duration of time, in that it was not just hours but a symbolic representation of time.

For instance when Ned is informed that there was no drink at Sachses as an operation which involved drinks had stopped in a period estimated to be three years, meaning he had stayed for at least three years since when he had visited the place.

In conclusion, the first presentation of realism paves the way towards surrealism through the foreshadowed “swim.” Ned’s entire house which was full was now empty and on sale.

At first, Ned had been welcomed graciously by Mrs. Graham, but the surreal happens when he is treated exceedingly rudely by the Biswangers since now his social status had automatically changed.

The last swim pool that Ned gets into is the pools of emptiness representing a twilight season of broke overnight (Kennedy and Gioia 241).

In the state of complete exhaustion after a long swim journey, Ned’s manners have been presented through a comedy way into a state of fantastical horrendous and pandemonium.

This was made possible through the representation of years and different seasons as though they were months where Ned is supposed to confront his unrealistic present state.

Work Cited

Kennedy, X. J. and Dana Gioia. Literature: an introduction to fiction, poetry, and drama. London: Longman, 2005. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "“The Swimmer” by John Cheever." March 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-swimmer-by-john-cheever/.


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