Losing Time In Life: The Swimmer By John Cheever

1579 words - 6 pages

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, once declared “Lost time is never found again.” This quote ties to the meaning of how people frequently let time seep through their hands. John Cheever’s "The Swimmer" portrays this through the eyes of suburban man Neddy. Neddy is the average ‘Joe’ of most suburban households. Life in suburbia is repetitive in most scenarios, and humans can easily get lost in the monotonous adventure known aslife. Time leaks away from his figure, and he is not sure of he is the one changing too fast, or the world around him. "His main themes include the duality of human nature: sometimes dramatized as the disparity between a character's decorous social persona and inner corruption" (Kozikowski) supports this cause.
Since Neddy decides that he is bored of his repetitive life, he decides to repetitively swim across all the way back to his home. Each pool represents a period of time, most likely a couple of months. Unfortunately, Neddy is trapped inside his routine and does not realize of the changes around him. For that everything he sees in his suburbs are the same, just middle class houses that all look alike. The story does an excellent job in showing how unaware Neddy is in his own decline. In John Cheever's "The Swimmer," Cheever uses diction and symbolism to express the theme of repetitive human life that decays daily.
Throughout the story, John Cheever uses the the literary device of symbolism to illustrate the theme of a cyclic human experience that erodes away every day. Throughout the story "The Swimmer," Cheever uses this device to represent a plethora of symbols. For example, the main and initial symbol perceived in the reader's mind are the aqua swimming pools. While wasting the day drinking at his neighbor's house, he has an epiphany to swim through all the pools on the path back home. For that every pool the stereotypical suburban scrub swims through, he goes through a period of time and monotony. These pools are all the same, and when he comes out the other side of one, he is not even aware of what has just passed. Analyzers of this short story have rendered, “He has been swimming in the Westerhazys' pool. And what does one swim in a pool but repetitious laps? Even the stroke he uses is repetitious” (Blythe & Sweet). This is backed up by Cheever's writing: "He swam a choppy crawl, breathing either with every stroke or every fourth stroke and counting somewhere in the back of his mind the one-two one-two of a flutter kick" (Cheever). Cheever’s intentions along with Blythe and Sweet in these quotes are that nothing is new, everything is the same. For that many can relate to this idea, and for that everyone is a swimmer in their own way. Swimming unvaried strokes in similar pools of lost time and repetition.
The evident nature manifests the passage of time. The eroding mountains and melting glaciers demonstrate to humans the natural beauty in change. Change can occur as quickly as in the...

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