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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 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 ...view middle of the document...

By doing this Neddy is ignoring the fact that he is old and may not be able to do the thins of youth forever.
The first few houses Ned visits with no problems, he is able to converse with the guests well due to his status, and swims the pools easily even though he has been drinking a large amount of alcohol. Ned arrives at the Bunker’s home and is immediately greeted by Enid Bunker, who is ecstatic to see him. Ned easily maneuvers his way through the part and with his ease, procures a drink and swims the pool without causing himself any trouble. The next hosue Ned visits is the Levy’s. Their house was recently frequented by a party, but the party has since completed. Ned fixes himself a drink here and swims the pool easily. Ned then takes a moment to reflect, and thinks to himself, “He felt tired, clean, and pleased at the moment to be alone” (408). This is the first time that Ned feels “tired”. This tiredness must be derived from the fact that Ned has now walked multiple miles and swam through many pools, not to mention the effects that the alcohol must be having on him by now.
While reflecting at the Levy’s the storm comes as well. Just before the storm hits Ned begins to question the time, “What time had it gotten to be. Four? Five?” (408). At the Levy’s Ned questions the passing of time for the first time in the story. He does so again after the storm has hit. Time seems to pass slowly for Ned, but unfortunately this will soon no longer be true. After the storm Ned’s memory begins to fail him as well. He questions when the Japanese lanterns were bought. He can not seem to remember if they were bought one or two years ago. This is a sign that Neddy has begun to lose track of time as well and that he may not be as impenetrable as he once believed he was.
As the storm hits, signs of autumn or fully begin to materialize. The narrator explains, “The rain had cooled the air and he shivered. The force of the wind had stripped a maple of its red and yellow leaves” (409). Both of these natural occurrences are signs of fall. Trees loses their leaves in fall, just before winter hits. In addition, the air begins to cool and a person in swimming trunks would be getting cold and possibly begin to shiver. This also leads right into the Lindley’s house, which Ned finds to his surprise to be abandoned and for sale. After the storm Ned moves on to the Welcher’s house and, unfortunately, Ned’s memory fails him again here and he is unable to figure out how the Welcher’s had moved out of their home. Ned thinks to himself, “Was him memory failing or had he so disciplined it in the repression of unpleasant facts that he had damaged his sense of the truth?” (409). Here it becomes evident that Ned has tried to avoid anything unpleasant and due to this has begun to miss things that the more acute observer would notice. Once again, these are two more examples of Ned loosing track of time and not being as immune to the occurrences around him.
At the highway Ned has...

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