John Cheever


I have read "The Swimmer" a few times and have looked at several internet reviews to make a little sense out of it.
The story starts in a very real (though strange) manner: Ned feels he should swim the 8.5 miles to his house from his friend's house via all of the swimming pools between the two points. As the story progresses, Ned goes from optimistic to a man of despair, summer goes to fall, day to night, clear to stormy, Ned becomes weaker and less athletic, older... Each pool he goes to, the friends he comes across act stranger and stranger, until at one particular pool party, the host comments that he had lost all of his money very quickly, his wife, children, house, everything dear to him. Ned, though, simply continues on, tossing off the comments as meer facts that slipped his mind. When he comes home, though, the house is locked and abandoned and has been for some time.
What sense can one make from this? Possibly Cheever is commenting on all of our lives. We tell oursleves that our homes, families, jobs, friends, and everything else will always be secure and present; this is our blanket. The truth is that if we aren't careful, these things can slip from our grasp and we won't even know it until it is much too late.

>>By wes   (Sunday, 26 Jan 2003 02:28)

I have also read "The Swimmer" a few times and looked at some reviews. I think Cheever is illustrating the irony of living the American Dream. Neddy has everything anyone could want- a wife, children, a mistress, friends, a home, parties to go to, dinner invitations, etc. Yet he still feels the need to "escape" his life with alcohol. His swim may represent the time in which he let his alcoholism take control. After all, it did start out as a way to "celebrate the beauty of the day," but as his swim ends he finds all the things he had gone. Maybe the lesson to be learned is that if what you are doing works, keep doing it. While it is good to take risks, make sure what you risking is something or someone you don't mind losing.

>>By Ashley   (Wednesday, 2 Apr 2003 03:35)

I have just read "The Wapshot Chronicle" and I find it to be very complex and at times difficult to comprehend. It seems to be about filial relationships and how everything that seems perfect really isn't.

>>By S. M. Allard   (Thursday, 10 Apr 2003 16:39)

I have recently read the story "The Swimmer" and was asked to write an analysis paper on it's significance. From what I can discern from the jumbled, dream-like stroy is that Ned sets out as a discoverer, a "pilgrim" to escape something, to forget. His journey through the pools of his county is a metaphor for his alchoholism. As he progressively wears off from the initail buzz, or elation from setting out on his quest, Ned remembers his situation and what he is trying so hard to forget. His absence from reality due to his alchoholism-or journey- has altered his sense of reality. Ned seems to always need a drink. As he begins to remember, Ned craves a drink to revitalize him. The message is possibly a result from Cheever's life. Possibly him, or someone he knew, suffered from alchoholism.

>>By John   (Monday, 28 Apr 2003 06:51)

I thought John's comment on 'The Swimmer' being a metaphor for alchoholism made sense, but it has been a while since I read the story. It is possible that I am confusing dear old Cheever with the slightly more mischievous Raymond Carver! Both of them are fantastic American writers. Can we have a discussion on the meaning of some of Carver's stories, much more obscure I think!

>>By Hannah   (Thursday, 1 May 2003 09:03)

Metaphorical or allegorical manifestations of alcoholism in The Swimmer are secondary, though still supplementary, facets to the theme, which Cheever was expounding upon. This, I believe, dealt with the emptiness, or rather the ignorant sublimity with which we pass through life, and with which time passes us.

>>By Gil   (Thursday, 8 May 2003 02:42)

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