Is He Swimming or Is he Drowning?
In the short story “The Swimmer”, the author John Cheever uses various symbols and many forms of imagery to describe the changes in life which Neddy, the main character of the story, is going through. Cheever implies in the story that aging is something that can not be avoided and one often denies its coming. Using Neddy’s journey through his neighbors pools, he shows that it is difficult to accept the changing results when one experiences life altering events. Not only does the author use pools to symbolize the changes in the life which Neddy is going though, he uses different seasons, the way people treat him, and also his current surroundings to describe this change.
The changes in Neddy’s life are associated with the changes in Cheever’s imagery. In the beginning of the story the author describes Neddy as “a slender man--he seemed to have the especial slenderness of youth” and sets the setting by stating that “The day was lovely, and that he lived in a world so generously supplied with water seemed like a clemency” (Cheever). This description gives the reader the sense that Neddy is a “legendary figure” as described by Cheever, and that the day was beautiful and filled with joy. Hurling himself from one neighbors pool to another and being greeted by each neighbor with a drink, the neighbors hospitality changes at the Biswangers when he is greeted by being called a “gate crasher” and being told that “You don’t seem to pay much attention to invitations” (Cheever). Neddy clearly does not accept that he is unwanted and his happiness is quickly replaced when he came across the Welcher’s house. “The pool furniture was folded, stacked, and covered with a tarpaulin. The bathhouse was locked. All the windows of the house were shut, and when he went around to the driveway in front the saw a FOR SALE sign” (Cheever). The imagery quickly changes from a good pleasant day to a more down and depressing scene which also changes the...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document