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Exploring The Midlife Crisis Of Upper Class Americans In The Swimmer, By John Cheever

2060 words - 9 pages

The promise of American freedom is stirring up the imaginations of people all over the world. Freedom is the idea of the American equalities and a mechanism of success to every individual’s skill and abilities. Freedom becomes a tool of economic prosperity of the American industry that has been a large influence on the American culture since the industrial revolution. Through the years, the technological evolutions distinguish the changes of the American life that increasingly become materialistic. Nevertheless, American freedom is not always consistent with the harmony of power and riches. The past traditional values that are self-sacrifice is currently infer as the quest of riches. The ...view middle of the document...

Alcohol consumption is one of the most problems of the American society. Alcoholism is not only affecting the adults, but also the younger generations. Alcohol is generally affecting the body and the mind of a person that leads into deterioration physically, mentally, socially, and financially. The protagonist, Neddy Merrill’s wealth and a perfect family reveals to be deceptive as he is an alcoholic man. Neddy has always a drink in every stop on his journey around his neighborhood. In the beginning of the story, the inescapable consumption of alcohol is becoming the lifestyle habit of Neddy and his community that “you can [hear] it from the lips of the priest … [hear] it from the leader of the Audubon group [is] suffering from a terrible hangover… at the edge of the Westerhazy’s pool” (157). They are all gathering at Westerhazy’s pool complaining about their hangover; however, their drinking routine continues and “Everybody from the suburban socialites to the priest [has] had too much to drink [and] Sunday is supposed to be a day of worship, but … a sybaritic, hedonistic lifestyle is what is [reveres] … the main social ritual observed is drinking” (Blythe, Hal, and Charlie Sweet 1. "Cheever's Dark Knight of the Soul: The Failed Quest of Neddy Merrill). Habitual Alcohol consumption of Neddy and his upper class neighborhood is a part of their lifestyle and leisure. Hence, it represents the American society in which alcoholism plays a role in every social form of life.
Societal standing during the 1960’s suburbs maintains a very high stability of living. The suburban consumers have more money to spend on luxury things that can establish social status and comfort. Material things are increasingly linked with the American concept of lifestyle. Also, during the 1960’s, the American suburbs have remain socially segregated in solidifying the ethnic and social class. The moral transparency of civil rights replaces with the unfriendly matters of personal choice. This community distinction portrays in Neddy Merrill and his wife who frequently refuse to attend the Biswangers’ party invitations. Neddy and his wife segregate themselves to the Biswangers’ because the “[Biswangers’ are] the sort of people who [discuss] the price of things at cocktails, [exchange] market tips during dinner …and [tell] dirty stories to mixed company … they [do] not belong to Neddy’s set” (163). The Merrill’s are only associates with the right peers. The American lifestyle segregation is clearly portrays in Cheever’s story. And therefore “The Swimmer’ presents a desolate yet sympathetic critique of 20th-century middle-class society in America by holding a mirror to the values and limitations of its members” (Current-Garcia, Eugene 1. "The Swimmer: Overview”). Accordingly, the Merrill’s social exclusion with the Biswangers’ replicates the American lifestyle separation that limits the social interactions between the lower and the upper class society.
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