Department of English and American Studies
Palacký University in Olomouc
Eliška Doleželová F12285
Suburban Lifestyle and Worldview
in Cheever’ s ‘The Swimmer’
Mgr. Markéta Gregorová
KAA/AJC1 Freshman Composition
9th December 2012
Suburban Lifestyle and Worldview in Cheever’s ‘The Swimmer’
This essay focuses on the social classes and human characters in Cheever’s ‘The Swimmer’ (1964) and seeks to demonstrate that the suburban lifestyle is a thematically important feature of the short story. The following paragraphs will show that the relationships among the inhabitants of the suburbia affect the protagonist’s perception and awareness of time and lead up to his final destruction.
The story starts on a sunny Sunday afternoon when the protagonist and his wife Lucinda visit the Westerhazys. Both couples are from the upper-class society. They sit by the pool, have a drink and talk about the hangover from the last night. This corresponds to their snobbish lifestyle. These people share the same feelings and talk about the same genteel topics. The incomprehensible way of life leads to comfort and laziness. No wonder that they usually meet similar characters as they are. In this way Ned’s journey continues—peaceful and really naive.
The second stop he reaches is by the Grahams. Mrs Graham seems to be delighted that someone visits them. That is why she is so generous and offers him a drink—what else we would also expect? Offering a drink and chatting is the only thing that is considered to be right in this community and nobody can be offended or shocked.
Subsequently Ned comes to the Hallorans. Despite of being so much affluent, politeness, honesty and good manners confirm their characters. No wonder that Mrs Halloran tries to point out to Ned about his misfortunes. However, his arrogance does not allow him to believe it.
‘“I’m sure you can get a drink at the...
Cited: Cheever, John. ‘The Swimmer.’ 1964. The Stories of John Cheever. London: Vintage, 1990. 776–88. Print.
Byrne, Michael D. ‘The River of Names in “The Swimmer”’, Studies in Short Fiction. (Summer 1986) Vol. 23. Iss. 3. 326–27. Print.
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