Literary Techniques in “The Swimmer”
John Cheever’s use of literary techniques emphasizes his themes of alcoholism and American suburbia in “The Swimmer.” Alcoholism is prevalent in John Cheever’s “The Swimmer.” The American middle-class and suburbia are also prevalent in “The Swimmer.” When read for the first time, “The Swimmer” is just about an alcoholic going for a swim, yet if viewed from a deeper perspective it is a “powerful evocation of the loss of a sense of purpose among America's privileged class in particular and among twentieth-century man in general” (Barnhisel). Throughout the story alcohol is a reoccurring motif. “The drinking, serving, and desire for alcohol become significant motivators for Neddy as well as a way to measure his social standing,” (Spark Notes). At the beginning of the story, everyone is complaining about having drunk too much. Neddy drinks gin before deciding to go swimming from pool to pool. At the first parties, he gets drinks. Later, he wishes for a drink and gets denied once at the Sachses’ and once at Shirley Adams’s. As the story progresses and he gets weaker, he longs for a drink. At the end of the story, Neddy comes home to find his home empty. This raises questions, “Where is his wife Lucinda, is she late or gone?” “Did he really sell his house and not remember?” “What happened to his daughters?” The reader does not get these questions answered. This could have a deeper meaning. Neddy could be drunk and dreamed all this, or Lucinda could have left (as evident from Neddy having a mistress, they may have had problems) and he may be returning to his memories. The theme of the emptiness of suburbia is prevalent in “The Swimmer.” As Neddy makes his journey, the despair and emptiness of suburbia that lies under the prefect, sunny façade of suburbia is revealed (Spark Notes). Neddy seems to have a full, happy life but everywhere he goes people mention his habit of rejecting invitations. He forgets...
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