In the short story, The Swimmer, John Cheever employs water as a symbol for passing time and as a representation of escapism from life?s hardships. Cheever?s main character, Ned Merrill, swims across the county via his neighborhood swimming pools. The journey Ned takes is later recognized as a result of denial of what has happened to him and an attempt to keep his memory repressed.
As the reader begins to gain a perspective on Ned?s character, he or she may be tempted to question his sanity. However, Cheever establishes Ned more as a carefree and impulsive individual. Ned?s ?inexplicable contempt for men who did not hurl themselves into pools,? as well as his initial desire ?to swim without trunks? are perfect demonstrations of his heedlessness. (Charters, p. 151) This aspect of Ned?s personality is important when trying to understand the reasoning behind Ned?s journey in the first place.
When one uses the expression ?things are going swimmingly,? he or she is indicating an ease of mind and an absence of tribulation. Cheever uses this idea to set a light-hearted tone to his story at first. Ned?s description of the waters of the first few swims
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