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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 Swimmer,” John Cheever uses point of view, setting and symbolism to show the value of true relationships and the moments of life that are taken for granted.
“The Swimmer” is an allegory that is narrated in third person point of view as someone who is observing Neddy’s journey. This enables the reader to discover the reactions of friends and neighbors as Neddy arrives at their homes while still revealing the shift of the round character’s own attitude and feelings as his journey through life continues. Cheever wisely tells the story from a perspective in which the reader can still be connected to Neddy from the beginning to the end of the story while learning how his actions have disappointed others and not just himself. It also uncovers the involvement of each character and their relationship with Neddy before and after his mid-life crisis. If this story was told from any other point of view then the reader would only be obtaining one sided, in a sense a close minded, version whereas with a third person point of view the reader is approached to the entire situation given all perspectives. It guides the reader from one meaningful piece to another on an even level without any bias impressions while the story is being delivered.
Cheever, also known as "the Chekhov of the suburbs,” is skillful at creating places with a particular atmosphere in his stories that reveal each character’s characteristics to the reader. The author is known to use accustomed settings such as “the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Westchester suburbs, [and] old New England villages based on various South Shore towns around Quincy, Massachusetts, where he was born, and Italy, especially Rome” (Debate). In “The Swimmer,” there is an evident stigma of the suburbia county that is exposed to the reader with the writing aid of Cheever’s own familiarities. He includes minimal details about the living situation of the characters, but features important acts and possessions that still explain the mannerisms of the characters. The reader can still visualize the large homes, the parties, and how the characters in the community act toward one another and how they carry themselves as well. Neddy and his neighbors who live in this county are built on appearances just like the location itself. Cheever succeeds at intensifying the story with the setting to emphasize the emptiness of the county, which also takes place within Neddy. He also gives the reader the circumstances of the characters by involving the lifestyle of the setting in the...

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