the wsimmer Essay

Submitted By Agbelomo
Words: 1253
Pages: 6

Samuel Adebayo
Professor Jennifer Jakob
Literature 110
November 12, 2013
Psychological and Marxist Criticism of (The Swimmer by John Cheever) The world of the wealthy is that of enjoyment, recreation, and financial security. The upper middle class persistently uses alcohol, drugs, and social gatherings to while away their time. However, beneath this refuge and comfort lie unhappiness, psychological depression, self-denial, and facades. John Cheever in his 1964 fiction story, The Swimmer, depicts a classic example of the life of a man whose plight originates from his engulfment by social status, position, and wealth. Consequently, he neglects all his problems, and allows time to pass him by. Cheever’s quotes, “He was not a practical joker nor was he a fool but he was determinedly original and had a vague and modest idea of himself as a legendary figure” (1926), depicts the delusional world in which many privileged and well-heeled of the society resides. They continually perceive themselves as movers and shakers, untouchable, narcissistic, and prominent. Their failure to notice that their view is indeed defective blinded them from observing the changes around them. “Ned,” who is the main character in the story, represents the haves of the society. Looking at this story from Marxist point of view, the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” has widened tremendously throughout the story. High standard social gathering is created by the rich and affluent in order to dissuade the have-nots from attending. The story also outlines the enrichment of the suburban living. All the homes in Ned’s suburban neighborhood have pools, golf links, and tennis courts. All these amenities are ways Ned and his friends remain relevant among themselves. They constantly refuse to adjust to their changing financial situations. Ned prides himself on his high social class, expensive suburban home, many influential friends, and his youthful forte. This quote by Cheever, “If you’ve come here for money, she said I won’t give you another cent,” reveals that Ned’s financial situations was in shambles, but refuses to acknowledge it because he wants to remain relevant. They even realize that their society is undemocratic. This quote by Cheever, “They went for broke overnight--nothing but income—and he showed up drunk one Sunday and ask us to loan him five thousand dollars” (1931), also reveals that he was in financial troubles. He continually neglects his problems in order to belong in his economic status. Ned’s intention to travel home by swimming though his neighborhood pools depicts a voyage over several periods of his lifetime. It also shows that no matter how he tries to turn back the clock, the passage of time is certainly inescapable. His persistent intake of alcohol throughout the story enhances Ned’s delusion about passage of time and his misery. He was in a total denial of the reality. This quote by Cheever in the second paragraph, “He was a slender man-he seemed to have the especial slenderness of youth-and while he was far from young” (1925), reveals that Ned is no longer a young man though, he tries to act as youthful as possible. Another incident that reveals that Ned is aging is the way he was breathing deeply and gasping for air after he finishes swimming. Ned is in denial about aging, he wants to believe that he is still a young man. The occurrence of repetitious events like swimming, Sunday afternoon social gatherings, and drinking of alcohol are examples of how he tries to turn back the clock. As Ned progresses through his delusional journey, it becomes quite obvious that the passage of time is ample quicker than he supposed. Different people and things around him are changing. Greeneries and borders turn yellow and red, many pools dry up, grasses grow taller than usual, patterns of season and climate changes, and the air temperature become frigid. Most of his