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Allusion In The Swimmer, By John Cheever

1155 words - 5 pages

John Cheever’s The Swimmer is a piece that is very unique, and unlike many works, it is running on two different time scales. One time scale is running on the readers time scale, as he is journeying from pool to pool. The second time scale can be interpreted as over the course of many years, as his life passes him by and he realizes by the end that he has lost his house and his family, yet due to his suburban upper class living, he has not even noticed that this has occurred. This alone makes it unlike many other works; however, the Swimmer is argued to have alluded to other classic works. This includes allusions to classic works by Homer and F. Scott Fitzgerald most notably. In William ...view middle of the document...

This includes animal imagery, puns, and ethnic references that we see in both works when talking about the lists (289). His next argument for showing allusion is the families involved in the story. In both stories there are families that are both loved and disliked by the protagonist. Also we see a similarity in the naming of these families as well. In The Great Gatsby we have the Catlips and the Hammerheads, and in the The Swimmer we have the Gilmartins and the Hammers. In both stories we have names stereotypically indicative of upper-class wealthy families and in both we see the use of “Hammer” which isn’t an all too common surname (290). Allen believes the last nod to The Great Gatsby is towards the end of the story when Ned is looking at the empty abandoned house. Allen believes that Ned could be looking at the same house as Jay Gatsby at the end of the novel when he finds himself staring into a once great place house where all these parties took place, right before he had to leave it for the Midwest (293). Also. Allen also asserts that pools have a an important part in theme for both works, since pools are a symbol of the upper class lifestyle. It is a major part of The Great Gatsby since jay Gatsby actually is killed in a pool. Ned spends his whole journey swimming from pool to pool passing his whole life by. Overall the allusions to The Great Gatsby are based off of the protagonist Ned and his similarities to Jay Gatsby. Ned and Jay Gatsby’s similarities are significant when considering the allusion to The Great Gatsby.
Terence Bower’s critique on Cheever’s piece argues that there is a definite allusion to the great mythic epic the Odyssey. His first argument for allusion is early on when Neddy slaps the backside of the goddess Aphrodite. Aphrodite was an important mythical character in the Illiad, who went to help fight in the Trojan War (Bowers 17). Ned then refers to himself as an explorer and a man with a destiny. This is very similar to Odysseus’s character as he is also set out on a journey. He is materialistic and very self-confident, so this is a possible mirroring of the characters Ned, and Odysseus (18). The next thing Bower’s looks at is the structure of...

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