An analysis of the symbolism in cheever’s The Swimmer”

An analysis of the symbolism in cheever’s cheever’s  The Swimmer”

In a world full of joy, Cheever manages to add deception within the text to create a character whose life seems diminished in a short period. According to Cheever, when the force of the storm managed to scatter a maple tree of its red and yellow leaves and showing signs of autumn when the season is midsummer (237). The significance the leaves show, just how much change is happening within the text even as Neddy seems to deny any real change occurring throughout the narrative. As soon as the weather gets colder, the character seems oblivious to the occurrence and gives the reader a sense of denial towards the real time-lapse. In “The Swimmer,” Cheever symbolizes a time-lapse resulting in despair, loneliness and denial which disguises a world full of bliss and exploration through swimming pools.

The exploration that Neddy created with the swimming pools, provided a sense of direction towards the characters life while helping the reader understand his happiness under all the deception. As the author describes, “His life was not confining and the delight he took in this observation could not be explained by its suggestion of escape” (Cheever 235). Cheever explains how Neddy categorized himself as a legendary figure and by creating an escape, which helps the reader visualize Neddy’s understanding of life. Many references including the way the author describes Neddy’s maps, shows how imaginary and unrealistic the characters thoughts are in addition to his social standing. The change from the beginning of the journey to the ending, shows the rise in the characters blissful life to a cold and dark ending when he reaches his once happy home.
The time-lapse within the narrative provides a cryptic significance between the swimming pools and the climate change, where the character seems oblivious towards time. When Cheever states, “Then there was an explosion, a smell of cordite, and rain lashed the Japanese lanterns that Mrs. Levy had bought in Kyoto the year before last, or was it the year before that?” (237). The author describes the characters amnesia which results in Neddy’s suspicion towards the change of time, and clarifying the readers confusion about Neddy’s dilemma. The change in the authors tone when the character feels the coldness of autumn, while noticing red and yellow leaves, changes to a sense of despair. The symbolic meaning within the changes of seasons, expresses Neddy’s transition from a warm and happy summer to ending in the cold winter of his life.

The Loneliness that Neddy faces throughout the narrative describes the chain of pools called the Lucinda River, which symbolizes Neddy’s marriage. When the author states, “It was probably the first time in his adult life that he had ever cried, certainly the first time in his life that he had ever felt so miserable, cold, tired, and bewildered” (Cheever 241). Cheever sets the tone by describing the rudeness of Neddy’s mistress, and by showing the start of his despair which leads to his empty marriage. The Lucinda River characterizes a safe and comfortable passage, that resembles the characters marriage by which he seem to take advantage of. When the Lucinda River leads the character to a dark and lonely home, it symbolized the once comfortable life as more of a mere illusion and not reality.

By symbolizing swimming pools within the narrative, Cheever depicts a dark and empty tone while creating a bright world to hide it with time. When Cheever describes, “He had swum too long, he had been immersed too long, and his nose and his throat were sore from the water” (241). This describes Neddy’s long journey that seems to come to an end, and even though oblivious to it he seems to recognize the change. Showing weather changes within the narrative, gave readers the insight of time passing faster than normal which shows the Neddy’s amnesia. Overall the unseen events of time change within the narrative, showed the characters unknowing towards his life which leads to a life of despair.

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