This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Psychoanalytical Criticism Of The Swimmer By John Cheever

1854 words - 7 pages

In the short story The Swimmer by John Cheever, one of the dominant themes is the passage of time. In this short story time seems to pass as reality does with us unaware of its passing. The main character is the protagonist hero, Neddy Merrill who embarks on a traditional theme of a homeward journey. The scene opens on a warm mid-summer day at an ongoing pool party with Neddy and his wife Lucinda. The pool is “fed by an artesian well with a high iron content, was a pale shade of green.
They are at their affluent suburban friends Mr. and Mrs. Westerhazy’s house. Here he is grounded in reality. Neddy “sat by the green water, one hand in it, one around a glass of gin”. His pleasure seeking Id is in full force. The green color symbolizes wealth. The gin represents social lubrication. Neddy was “breathing deeply, stertorously as if he could gulp into his lungs the components of that moment”. It is here that I suspect he has already entered a dream state, and began his spiritual journey to the underworld. Cheever uses an archetypal narrative pattern that he is going on a quest, a type of night water journey that is suggests the depth of a spiritual allegory. This is the last time he will see his wife or children.
archetypal figures: smacked the bronze backside (libido) of Aphrodite (Greek Water Goddess of love and beauty – vain and unfaithful like Neddy)
Then he has a vision of home, "where his four beautiful daughters would have had their lunch and might be playing tennis" and sees himself as free to be an explorer. In starting his journey he walks away from reality and enters a fantasy world where he is a great explorer about to conquer the Lucinda River that he names after his wife. In reality he ignored his wife, engaged in adultery and lost her. The maps he makes up for his journey are imaginary. He starts his journey with his ego intact he is strong, energetic, and decides upon a courageous action that will prove his self-worth. Although youthful in his actions, he was “far from young” and “ might have been compared to a summer's day, particularly the last hours of one” and “had a vague and modest idea of himself as a legendary figure”. His motivation is to become legendary. This suggests that he is going through some form of a mid-life crisis and is a forshadowing of things to come. To be “embraced and sustained by the light green water” suggests that water is an essential element representing a life giving force.

First there were the Grahams, where he was happily greeted . He received a drink, (a break from reality) and was rescued by the distraction of others so that he could “slip away”. Once gain he did not want to deal with reality. He did not want to be friendly or linger. He went down a thorny path to a vacant lot. This symbolizes a downward, painful, and empty turn in the story.
the Hammers, “Mrs. Hammer, looking up from her roses, saw him swim by
although she wasn't quite sure who it was”. She did not recognize him, he was a...

Find Another Essay On Psychoanalytical Criticism of The Swimmer by John Cheever

Allusion and Symbolism in The Swimmer, by John Cheever

744 words - 3 pages John Cheever does not merely state the theme of his story, he expresses his theme, as a good writer should, in a variety of metaphors and analogies coupled with powerful imagery. In The Swimmer, Cheever writes and underscores his primary theme of alcoholism in many ways, such as his use of autumnal imagery and the color green. However, there is also some very prominent symbolism and allusions that serve to highlight the theme while also

Surrealism vs. Realism in The Swimmer, by John Cheever

691 words - 3 pages John Cheever uniquely crafted the story “The Swimmer” by using a mix of surrealism and realism throughout the story. Most people when they read “The Swimmer” they have to reevaluate it to comprehend what is happening. The reason for that is because Cheever shifts between surrealism and realism so much that the reader does not even notice. The story starts out with Neddy being so strong and youthful, but as the story goes on he weakens and ages

Bourgeois Suburban Life Exposed in The Swimmer, by John Cheever

810 words - 4 pages John Cheever: Drowning in the Suburbs—“The Swimmer” “The Swimmer”, written by John Cheever, is a story about the life of a middle-aged man living in a bourgeois American suburbia. I chose to write on “The Swimmer” based on its universal themes of the American Dream and life and hardship in suburbia. The story is very true to the lives of many Americans living the American Dream today. Keeping up with the Jones’ is part of this dream and

The Swimmer, by John Cheever: Time Waits For No Man

817 words - 4 pages Allison Murray Ms. Patrick English 9 11/21/2013 In “The Swimmer” by John Cheever, Neddy’s view of reality is drastically different from his neighbors. Neddy thinks that the entire story takes place in the time of an afternoon, when in reality many months have passed. Even though Neddy is stuck in the past, his neighbors and the rest of society move on, and at first it causes slightly awkward sympathy, but later he finds himself completely alone

Denial and Alcoholism Exposed in The Swimmer, by John Cheever

1106 words - 5 pages The Swimmer by John Cheever begins at Helen and Donald Westerhazy’s pool when Neddy Merrill makes the decision to journey eight miles home by swimming through a series of pools, he calls the “Lucinda River” (297) and walking when unable to swim. While he making his way back home, he stops at fourteen old friends’ houses and drinks before continuing on if possible. By the end of Neddy’s journey, he is exhausted and comes to the realization that

Denial and Alcoholism Exposed in The Swimmer, by John Cheever

944 words - 4 pages The Swimmer, a short story by John Cheever, tells the tale of Neddy Merrill and his decision to “swim” all the way home. It is an odd sort of an idea, and he fancies himself an adventurer exploring a new river. The river is really made of swimming pools that stretch across town, which collectively he believes will lead him home. Along his journey however, startling occurrences take place, leading to the conclusion that Neddy’s water-filled

The Swimmer, by John Cheever: Time Waits For No Man

1572 words - 7 pages The Swimmer begins with a party at the Westerhazy’s house. All the guests there are of high social standing, judging by the fact that tennis courts, sail bags, and alcohol are mentioned repeatedly. The phrase, “I drank too much” comes up repeatedly and the guests mention this phrase repeatedly. One of these guest is Neddy Merrill. By the context of the story, the reader determines that Neddy is well off and enjoys being part of the culture that

Use of Point of View, Setting and Symbolism in The Swimmer, by John Cheever

1159 words - 5 pages “The Swimmer,” a short fiction by John Cheever, presents a theme to the reader about the unavoidable changes of life. The story focuses on the round character by the name of Neddy Merrill who is in extreme denial about the reality of his life. He has lost his youth, wealth, and family yet only at the end of the story does he develop the most by experiencing a glimpse of realization on all that he has indeed lost. In the short story “The

The Passage of Time and Life in The Swimmer, by John Cheever

2771 words - 12 pages Having written a multitude of short stories and novels, author, John Cheever, has showcased his incredible writing abilities multiple times throughout his career. Even as a child, Cheever outwardly expressed his desire to write. As proven by his longstanding career, Cheever’s thirst for writing remained with him throughout his entire life. In perhaps his most famous piece of work, “The Swimmer,” Cheever’s impeccable writing ability is showcased

Exploring the Midlife Crisis of Upper-Class Americans in The Swimmer, by John Cheever

2060 words - 9 pages . "Cheever's Dark Knight of the Soul: The Failed Quest of Neddy Merrill." Studies in Short Fiction 29.3 (Summer 1992): 347-352. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Janet Witalec. Vol. 57. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 24 July 2014. Document URL http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CH1420032077&v=2.1&u=avl_jeff&it=r&p=LitRG&sw=w&asid=10fbb04b42cd70f3ace028430ed32d2d Cheever, John. "The Swimmer." The Northon Anthology American

The Lost Generation in The Swimmer, by John Cheever and Winter Dreams, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

662 words - 3 pages “The Swimmer” by John Cheever and “Winter Dreams” by F. Scott Fitzgerald have many elements in common. These stories are about two wealthy men interacting with other wealthy people. As the stories progress Neddy and Dexter search for the truth and the meaning of life. These two literary works fall under the literary movement called The Lost Generation. Finally, at the end of the narratives they are both grieving for themselves and realize that

Similar Essays

The Swimmer, By John Cheever Essay

1934 words - 8 pages Edition. Web. 23 Jan. 2014. Morace, Robert A. "John Cheever." Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition. N.p.: n.p., n.d. EBSCO. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. . Riley, Kathryn. "John Cheever and the Limitations of Fantasy." The CEA Critic 45.3-4 (Mar.-May 1983): 21-26. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Roger Matuz and Cathy Falk. Vol. 64. Detroit: Gale Research, 1991. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 Jan. 2014. Ross, Diane M. "The Swimmer." Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition (2004): 1-2. Literary Reference Center. Web. 21 Jan. 2014

The Monotony Of Life In The Swimmer, By John Cheever

812 words - 4 pages 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 everyones minds are the aqua swimming pools. While wasting the day drinking at his neighbors house, he has an epiphany to swim through all

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

Losing Time In Life: The Swimmer By John Cheever

1579 words - 6 pages 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