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

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 brilliantly. Although originally set out to be a novel, “The Swimmer” has grown to become a widely recognized and analyzed short story, one which both readers and literary critics alike admire. By drawing on his personal life and by using a wide range ...view middle of the document...

” Not surprisingly, Cheever drew inspiration not only from his relationship with his brother, but from other aspects of his personal life as well. Cheever’s personal life influenced his literary works, including “The Swimmer,” profoundly. For instance, in a variety of Cheever’s works including “The Swimmer,” alcohol acts as a powerful presence. Regarding “The Swimmer” specifically, a parallel can be drawn between Neddy Merrill and Cheever himself. As an adult, Cheever struggled with alcoholism; similarly, the main character in “The Swimmer,” Neddy Merrill, is depicted drinking alcohol in various scenes throughout the short story. Alcohol is not the only connection that can be made between Cheever’s personal life and the life that is illustrated in “The Swimmer;” a connection can also be made between Cheever’s own family life and the family life of Neddy Merrill. Specifically, it can be argued that Cheever used his relationship with his wife, Mary Cheever, as inspiration for the undertone of “The Swimmer.” For clarification, much in the same way the setting of “The Swimmer” starts off of as a bright, sunshine-filled day, so too could the early stages of John and Mary’s relationship be described: “In 1941, he met and married Mary Winsternez...Theirs was a marriage that began in a smitten springtime fervor…” (Bloom). The transition from a spring-like setting to a setting composed of bleakness and desolation can also be linked to the deterioration of John’s and Mary’s marriage. All in all, like many authors, Cheever drew inspiration from his personal life and used certain situations as the foundation for his writings.
Cheever’s sole use of his personal life as the starting point for many of his writings was not the only reason his works are so credible; in fact, if it were not for Cheever’s writing techniques, it is very likely “The Swimmer” and other literary works he has written would not have endured. It is Cheever’s use of his various writing techniques in “The Swimmer” that give the short story its life and character. At the core of Cheever’s short stories and novels is a solid foundation. It is this structure precisely that gives Cheever’s works the power to resonate with a wide range of individuals. Author of John Cheever's Flowering Forth: The Breakthroughs of 1947, James O’Hara, discusses this aspect of Cheever’s writing in his academic journal:
He had continued to experiment with the choice of materials for his stories, and had gradually won over editors with a combination of solid structural technique-he had always known how to put a story together-and Hemingwayesque understatement. (51)
Although O’Hara did not specifically address the short story “The Swimmer” in this particular excerpt, this quotation is nonetheless viable and true in its claims.
Along with a solid structure, in order for a piece of fiction to resonate with readers, the work also has to have meaningful characters. Cheever has proven to excel in this aspect of...

Find Another Essay On The Passage of Time and Life in The Swimmer, by John Cheever

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

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

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

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

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

1572 words - 7 pages his status brings. This culture is one of drinking and one where time seems to stand still, regardless of where a person is, be it by the poolside or whilst traveling. Cheever’s The Swimmer is a deceptively easy read but has an overriding theme that can at first be missed if the reader only notices the weather and alcohol. What is the theme of the Swimmer? In the Second paragraph Neddy is first mentioned. The narrator describes Neddy as having

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

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

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

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

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

2060 words - 9 pages his life. The story “The swimmer” represents the life of wealthy suburbs during the 1960’s and John Cheever illustrates their lifestyle, their view towards societal standing, and their view towards life. 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

Similar Essays

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

The Monotony Of Life In The Swimmer, By John Cheever

812 words - 4 pages 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. It is evident that nature manifests the passage of time. The eroding mountains and melting glaciers demonstrate to

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 Essay

1934 words - 8 pages reading just a few pages, the reader will wonder why Ned Merrill has suddenly decided to swim through pools to reach his house. Reading further in depth, the reader begins to realize that the swimming pools are just figurative and rather, Ned Merrill is “swimming” or traveling through stages off his life. John Cheever develops the theme of the passage of time in his short story, “The Swimmer”, through the use of symbolism, characterization, and