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Setting Essay - The Swimmer - John Cheever

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"I drank too much last night." The short story, The Swimmer, written by John Cheever, is about a man who has a fascination of swimming and decides to swim "across the country." On his journey swimming from pool to pool, the man is ignorant from the physical effects taken by alcohol and the swimming that takes a toll on him in different settings. For this man, Neddy Merrill, finds struggle between the physical effects of swimming, fellow friends, family, and alcohol during different settings throughout the story on his journey back home.

The story starts off at a cocktail party at the Westerhazys' where Neddy realizes that by following an imaginary chain of private and public pools in his affluent community he can literally swim home. "He seemed to see, with a cartographer's eye, that string of swimming pools, that quasi-subterranean stream that curved across the county." This is the starting point for when Neddy feels "determinedly original and had a vague and modest idea of himself as a legendary figure." As Neddy finds himself invincible at the party, he is determined nothing can stop him on his way.

As the short story continues, he lays out his plans to get back home to his family. He goes house to house swimming closer and closer to his destination. While everything is fine, he does "crash" neighbor parties and finds himself drinking. At first, the effect from drinking doesn't hurt but as he continues, he may later realize the pain. As we all know, drinking does alter judgment. Having a lack of judgment and swimming, Neddy can face serious injuries to self and could harm to others. This is the start of Neddy's drinking.

Neddy is well-received in the backyards and pools, but after finding a dried pool and waiting for a storm to pass in a gazebo, he starts to feel tired and disillusioned with his idea. Although he is still determined to go on, he can hardly remember the excitement he first had at the Westerhazys'. Neddy is terribly upset to find out that the Welchers' pool was dry; in fact, their house was up for sale. He recognizes that his memory must be failing him or he is repressing unpleasant facts for not remembering what had happened to the Welchers. When he came across the dried up pool he experiences a feeling that of depression and confusion. "His legs felt rubbery and ached at the joints. The worst of it was the cold in his bones and the feeling that might never be warm again." This is the climax where Neddy is changed and doesn't feel like a "legendary figure". More to add on the alcohol, he doesn't remember what happened to the Welchers leaving home. Significance of the dark storm and wind also brought out the feelings through Neddy. The storm had darkened and the wind picked up and stripped a maple of its red and yellow leaves that scattered them over the grass and the water. With any storm the sky darkens, this also brings forth a depressing color that may sadden Neddy. The colors of red and yellow resemble caution/danger. Due to the maple's leaves being stripped, this also shows and resembles that



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