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Reader Reaction To John Cheever's The Swimmer

1118 words - 4 pages

Reader Reaction to John Cheever's The Swimmer


One of the main ideas that is conveyed in John Cheever's The Swimmer is the way in which life consists of different mental stages and how they each affect the consciousness of the mind. In The Swimmer, Neddy goes through different swimming pools and this represents the different journeys in his life. He progresses from boundless optimism to endless despair as the seasons go by.  The times when Neddy is in or out of the water also represents the emotions he is going through and perhaps can correlate to the emotions felt throughout the duration of ones life. For example, when Neddy is not swimming, he tends to feel down or aggravated. During this sad period, he is usually in search of alcohol.  Even after he has had a drink or two, he is always ready to go back into the pools, which shows a lot about Neddy's ambitious character. Neddy's journey through the pools is longer than an afternoon.  In fact, we see this when he mentions the "storm passing" and the season change is shown through the phrase "red and yellow leaves." When Neddy finally reaches home, he is tired and weak. This displays aging through life and how one becomes fatigued easily as life goes on. When he sees that no one is home, it is obvious that Neddy's journey has come to an end and it seems as though Neddy has died, because his home can symbolize the heart and the soul, and since no one is home, Neddy's heart and soul is dead.





Although The Swimmer and the recent American film "A Beautiful Mind" both have differing plots, their main characters have some commonalities. Russell Crowe, the young mathematician who becomes a natural code breaker for the FBI is the main character and he does secret messions for the FBI.  For example, he finds he finds codes within local and national newspapers. These missions, however, are non-existent in the real world. Russell Crowe has been diagnosed with multiple personalities, which causes him to forget certain things about the real world.  These other personalities subject Crowe to a different perspective on life.  For example, he hardly ever acknowledges his teaching position at M.I.T. and rarely caters to the needs of his wife.  The relation between Cheever's story and the movie is that Crowe is unaware of his metal illness, but after people and certain events occur, he acknowledges that particular events existed and others were a figment of his imagination.  This interesting transformation from a normal person to a mental illness sufferer is somewhat similar to what Cheever is trying to accomplish within his story.  For example, both Cheever and the film make us question the sanity of the lead character, throughout the story. In both cases, the focus of the story is on one main character that goes through mental phases and how he adopts to societal influences.

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