3 of 5 stars to The Swimmer, a short story written in 1964 by John Cheever. Why on Earth would a man want to swim from one end of a county to the other? There would have to be something wrong with him to even want to accomplish something like that! Yet, Neddy Merrill, a character in John Cheever’s short story “The Swimmer”, wanted to do it, which obviously shows that there was something wrong with him. Neddy planned on jumping from pool to pool as though he was really swimming in the Lucinda. He also wished that he could do his marathon without his trunks on. Neddy was crazy and needed help. However, one has to have some admiration for the man because he achieved his goal of swimming the county. One also has to feel sympathy for a man who no longer has his job, money, wife, and daughters. Neddy Merrill may have his faults, but he also has several reputable qualities.
From the beginning of the work, Neddy Merrill had been drinking and crashing parties at several neighbor’s homes. Every time that he reached a new house he jumped in their pool, swam laps, drank, and had short conversations. Neddy encounters several interesting people and was always in a rush to leave. When he finally finished half of the river, he had arrived on the doorstep of the Hallorans, who were an extremely rich, elderly couple that basked in nakedness. Neddy got his wish from before when he wanted to make his swim without his trunks.
However, the couple then expressed their sorrow for Neddy’s misfortunes (losing the house and his children). Neddy, however, had no idea what was going on and he got up and left. Similarly, Neddy goes on to stop at his ex-mistress’s home. He knew that she would give him a drink and comfort. When he arrived, he suddenly could not remember whether he and the woman broke off their affair a day before, a month before, or even a year before. He did not appear to know what was going on around him or maybe he was living in the past. Nevertheless, he was having delusions again.
However, near the end, he was so weak that he was forced to go against his beliefs. He had lost his strength and was slowly dying. Yet, he made it to his house where he found himself in another shock and state of confusion. The door was locked, his family was gone, and the house was empty. He had no clue what was going on; Neddy was delusional, yet again.
Besides all of the evidence that made Neddy look crazy, there was the route that led him to those actions. It seemed as though while Neddy was trying swim the entire county on the Lucinda River, he was really trying to recapture his wife Lucinda. His quest really was not to swim in all the pools, but to win back his wife. Deep inside him, he was a lonely, confused, and scared man who probably knew that he had lost his money, wife, and family. He did not want to accept that and so he did anything he could to retrieve his lost belongings. Neddy did swim the whole county, but when he got home, he hadn’t reclaimed his family and money. He was still the same old guy, but now he had swum the county. There appeared to be no change in him. Or, does he now realize his surroundings? Is he know longer crazy? I wonder…
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