Books and Movies Reviews

The swimmer

It has been said that sometimes you have to look at where you have been to see where it is that you are going, but there are some people who fail to look at who they have become, and suddenly find themselves faced with a reality they don't remember or understand.In "The Swimmer" by John Cheever, (1964, Rpt. In Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense. Ed. Thomas Arp. 7th ed. NY: Harcourt Brace, 1998. 392-401) Ned Merrill is one of those people.As Ned’s travels progress, we watch as Ned unknowingly transforms from a young man on a midsummer;s afternoon to an old man faced with a tragic present as winter is beginning.
When Ned Merrill started out his swim along the Lucinda River, he seemed to be a strong and lighthearted young man.Since it was the early afternoon of a midsummer Sunday, Ned set out for his 8-mile swim with expectations of beating his wife home for supper.The four pools that made up thefirst leg of the Lucinda River were met with no ill will.In fact, Ned was met with warm faces with open arms, and bars.After taking shelter in the Levy;s gazebo to avoid the storm, we receive thefirst clue that things are not quite as they seem for Ned’s strange journey.
With the appearances of the "blighted" maple, the slight nip to the air, the dismantled and overgrown riding ring, and the emptied pool, we are made aware of the passage of time that Ned ignores.Ned even goes to the extent of admitting his memory might be failing him, as he realizes that the Welchers have moved away.Ned is then confronted with what he feels will be his two biggest challenges.First, he must cross Route 424, spurring on the ridicule of passers by seeing him only in his swimming trunks.His second lies in the crossing of the public pool in the Recreation Center.He finds the thought of even entering the pool as contaminating himself, but persisted and found himself rejected from the pre…

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