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Transcript of THE SWIMMER
1. The Unavoidable Passage of Time
2. The Emptiness of the Upper Class People
3. The Harms of Alcoholism
by John Cheever
On a Sunday afternoon in an upper class neighbourhood of New Yorkk, a middle-aged Ned Merrill drops by a pool party organised by his friends, Wasterhazys while they are complaining abut their hangover from the night before
. They feel shock of Neddy sudden presence at their house. A brilliant idea suddenly pop up into his mind that he can literally swim home moving from through the series of swimming pools between the Wasterhazy’s house and his home that is in miles away. He names his voyage Lucinda River, after his wife.
He moves to Grahams’ and few others pool. He has a drink and chats with the hosts before leaving. A sudden storm begins. Neddy waits in Levy’s gazebo watching the storm lash the tress. When the rain stops, he notices that red and yellow leaves are scattered all over the lawn though it is in the middle of summer.
He proceeds his journey to Welcher’s pool. On his way, he is surprised to see Lindsey’s horse riding area is overgrown and he cannot remember whether he heard that Lindseys’ are board. When he reaches Welcher’s house, he feels strange to find Welcher’s pool is empty and the house is for sale. Neddy tries to remember when he last heard from the Welchers’.
The he walks to Hallorans’. Mrs. Hallorans expresses his sympathy over the fact Neddy has sold his home and something happened in his family. Neddy asks for a drink when he gets to Helen and Eric Saches’ pool, but Helen says they have not been drinking since Eric had an operation three years ago.
The Biswangers are having party when Neddy arrives, and he is treated extremely rudely because of his superior social status and Neddy treated them the same way before. Mrs. Biswangers told the guests that Neddy wants to borrow him some money. Everyone is discussing about his debt and broken family. He moves to another home,Shirley Adam,whom used to be his mistress before. He asks to get some money from her but she refuses.
He reaches his home crying and feeling confused finding that his house is empty without his wife and his daughter.
Neddy Merill’s journey to his home through the pools of his neighborhood becomes a journey of his life. This shows that the passing of time is inevitable, no matter how much people ignore or avoid it.
As Neddy’s journey progresses, we can see that time is passing more quickly than Neddy realizes. For example leaves at the neighborhood turn yellow and red, the colour of the sky change, and the air gets colder portray the changing of time from summer to autumn.
Across Neddy’s journey through the pools, we can see that some of the resident of the neighbourhood face emptiness and despair.
Every house Neddy goes, people are drinking heavily, this shows that the upper-class family tends to solve their problems by drinking alcohol
Neddy’s love life; Even though Neddy names his pool path after his wife, Lucinda River, his wife has leave him maybe because of his affair with Shirley Adams. The affair, however, also shows lacks of genuine love.
Neddy Merrill as well as the society loves to drink alcohol that drives into craziness. This is proven when Neddy seems to have several symptoms: disorientation, mental impairment, hallucinations, confusion, fatigue, and trembling. It is clear that alcohol has ruins his health and mind.
MAIN CHARACTER : NEDDY MERRILL
Story begins in a summer day in 1960's
In suburban Westchester, New York City
Upper class neighborhood of New York City
The journey takes place from pool to pool in the county
READER RESPONSE CRITICISM
Ned is obsessed with liquid; alcoholic drinks and pool.
He finds pleasure and try to escape from the reality of his life by swimming throughout the pools and have a drink. He wants to replace his painful past life experiences with the pleasure he get when he travels through the pools and drinking.
Ned is actually an abandoned, poor and misfortune who used to be an upperclass man.
He has been left by his wife and daughters maybe because of his affair and his ignorance. He also lost all his money and properties.
"Since it was midsummer the trees must be blighted, and yet he felt a peculiar sadness at this sign of autumn. He braced his shoulders, emptied his glass, and started for the Welcher’s pool. This meant crossing the Lindleys’ riding ring and he was surprised to find it overgrown with grass and all the jumps dismantled. He wondered if the Lindleys had sold their horses or gone away for the summer and put them out to board. He seemed to remember having heard something about the Lindleys and their horses but the memory was unclear. On he went, barefoot through the wet grass, to the Welchers’, where he found their pool was dry." (paragraph 9, page 611)
The changing of weather shows the changing of time of Neddy’s life.
The weather changes from summer afternoon to autumn which can be a symbol of the changes of Neddy’s life from an upper class man to a poor, homeless, and abandoned person.
Neddy’s memory is actually inaccurate and distracted.
Neddy is unable to remember the details about his neighbours which tells us that he has been unfocused with his life. He is suffering depression and some other mental illness that distract his memories which fails his ability to separate memory and reality.
The Welcher’s pool that has been dried can be interpreted by readers as a distraction in Neddy's journey of life.
This shows that all is not well in Neddy’s life. It can also can be interpreted as a midlife crisis of Needy’s life.
In this Nowadays society, people often discriminate other people because of the difference class economy.
Based on the story, Biswanger greets Need rudely because of his current social status. He is not longer a wealthy man. The bartender and caterers are also being rude to him.
Avoid ignorance towards your community
Social status should not be practiced in society
The midlife crises have the power to rip family
“ She turned her back on him and joined some guests, and he went to the bar and ordered a whiskey. The bartender served him but he served him rudely. He was a world in which the caterer’s men kept the social score, and to be rebuffed by a part- time barkeep meant that he had suffered some loss of social esteem. Or perhaps the man was new and uninformed. Then he heard Grace at his back say: “ They went for broke overnight- nothing but income- and he showed up drunk one Sunday and asked us to loan him five thousand dollars.....” She was always talking about money. It was worse than eating peas off a knife. He dove into the pool, swam its length and went away” – (paragraph 37)
Slender, middle aged man
high social standard
The four Merrill's daughters
Donald & Helen Westerhazy
-Rude towards Neddy
“ She turned her back on him and joined some guests, and he went to the bar and ordered a whiskey. The bartender served him but he served him rudely. He was a world in which the caterer’s men kept the social score, and to be rebuffed by a part- time barkeep meant that he had suffered some loss of social esteem. Or perhaps the man was new and uninformed. Then he heard Grace at his back say: “ They went for broke overnight- nothing but income- and he showed up drunk one Sunday and asked us to loan him five thousand dollars.....” She was always talking about money. It was worse than eating peas off a knife. He dove into the pool, swam its length and went away” – (paragraph 37 , page 615 )
At the Biswangers :
When Grace Biswanger saw him she came toward him, not affectionately as he had every right to expect, but bellicosely.
“why, this party has everything,” she said loudly, “including a gate crasher.”
She could not deal him a social blow- there was no question about this and he did not flinch. “As a gate crasher,” he asked politely, “do I rate a drink?”
“Suit yourself,” she said. “You don’t seem to pay much attention to invitations.”
Id - Grace Biswanger
Being rude to Neddy as she calls him a gate crasher
Embarrass Neddy by telling to her guests that Neddy is broke and he always borrow money from her
Ego - Guests
They don't judge Neddy and don't treat him badly
They just act neutral even though Grace talks bad things about him
Super ego - Neddy Merrill
Even though he was being treated rudely by Grace, he just act normal and do not being harsh on her
He asked for a drink politely
1. Themes, Motifs, and Symbols (n.d). Retrieved August 10, 2014 from http://www.sparknotes.com/short-stories/the-swimmer/themes.html
2. Shoes B. Repression and the Truth: “The Swimmer”
(n.d). Retrieved August 7, 2014 from http://dsubnet0.wordpress.com/repression-and-the-truth-the-swimmer-by-john-cheever/
3. The Swimmer Essay - Essays and Criticism (n.d). Retrieved from August 12, 2014 from http://www.enotes.com/topics/swimmer/critical-essays/essays-criticism
4. Huggo. Plot Summary (n.d). Retrieved August 11, 2014 from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063663/plotsummary