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The Setting of John Cheever's "The Swimmer"
The setting of “The Swimmer” is in the suburbs, describing the aquatic adventure of Neddy, an
energetic and cheerful father and husband. After attending a cocktail party, he decided that he
would swim his entire way home through various swimming pools. Through his adventures, the
protagonist makes a great discovery that his marriage life is a great lie. The journey from the
cocktail party to his home converts him from a vibrant man to an old impoverished man whose
life is in a major crisis. As he arrives at his house, he finds his children and wife have abandoned
him. Different settings intertwine to showcase the middle class crisis he was experiencing. In this
sense, the setting of the story clearly depicts the ignorance that people have. Neddy for instance
has been thinking that he has a happy family, something that even surprises the reader who finds
that the protagonist does not come into terms with the new reality of life (Cheever 93).
The significantly fictitious life of Neddy depicts the struggles that most middle-aged people go
through. In middle class situations, most parents are always in Neddy's case where they
erroneously believe that their economic prosperity is equivalent to their marital success. This is
not normally the truth because most parents normally, discover that the more financial success
that they enjoy, the more marital problems that they go through. In this sense, there is a similarity
between the physical journey of Neddy and the real marital life journey. In his passage through
the swimming pools, it becomes possible to establish the clouded nature of Neddy’s memory,
which negatively affected his approach to life.
His failure in recalling significant aspect regarding his neighbor exposes the numerous
distractions that his life was predisposed to (Nydam 9). Psychological illnesses or depressions
are factors that have distracted Neddy and it is not possible for him to separate his memories and
the realities that are surrounding him (Duffy 11). Welcher’s pool being dry establishes a platform
that showcases the extent of disruption that he is going through bringing the aspect of the midlife
crisis that distracts people lives across the society.
The midlife crises being discusses are experience by those in the age of 40 to 60, with Needy
being in this age group. These midlife crises are linked to the period in life when people are
generally unsatisfied in the manner they are living their lives (Nydam 9). Depression that is
likely to be experienced call for psychotherapy. Furthermore, people at this age group are likely
to experience boredom, anger, confusion, unhappiness and a desire to have a change in the
manner they live or in their relationships. It is courtesy of these feelings that Neddy
catastrophically ended his journey in the swimming pool.
It was evident that the journey was characterized by over-indulgence, which can largely be
linked to his ending. He obviously was experiencing a financial difficulty that negative dealt a
blow to the comfortable lifestyle that he and his family had been used to. His swimming pool
voyage in this passage is being used to highlight the situation that is rife in the United States.
Millions of Americans currently lead lifestyles they cannot afford to sustain, not giving attention
to the way they are living. Their continued indulgence is likely to end up negatively affecting
Extramarital affairs, gambling, alcoholism and debt, steadily consume relationships every day. It
is possible for the ordinary midlife crises that individuals face to tear their families apart. In a sad
not for Neddy, he was too blinded to identify how sore his actions are likely to impact on his
family. Those suffering from midlife crises are likely to seek re-establishing themselves and
discovering new approaches of approving their lives.
The mistake for Needy is that he allowed his actions to manifest in an immense manner that
made him accomplish them only. His life completely changes, from a previously comfortable
person to a poor and homeless individual (Nydam 17). He sees them as unfortunate discoveries
along his chosen path of transportation, and therefore as tests for his spirit as an explorer (Shoes
6). Neddy's rather bulky pride easily hefts the weight of this challenge and he presses on,
undaunted by either roadblock or emotional progress. Through imagery, it is possible to connect
with Neddy from his communal drinking to his impoverishment. Every stop of his over-indulgence,
he gets increasingly difficult to get to, but he persists, happily and oblivious at first.
He is not even recognized. Then he is warned, scorned at, and in deep trouble.
Neddy pays no attention to these symbols and becomes "isolated, beaten and finally unaided"
(Nydam 15). It is a depressing expedition, but like plunging into a river, Neddy was swept away.
From this short story, the author seems to create a relation between Neddy's swimming voyage
and his personal marital challenges. Quite apparent, there is a great correlation between the
swimming pool setting and the household of the protagonist.
Therefore, the author desired to create a link between the life of Neddy and the practical life of
most Americans who have to go through the challenges of the middle life crisis.
Cheever, John. The Swimmer. California: University of California, 1967.
Duffy, Kris. Analysis of John Cheever's "The Swimmer". 29 July 2013 . 11 November 2013
Nydam, Rebekah. An Analysis of "The Swimmer" by John Cheever. 2013. 11 November 2013
Shoes, Brown. Repression and the Truth: “The Swimmer” by John Cheever. 2013. 11 November