The Swimmer Essay

1821 WordsApr 23, 20128 Pages
Sanders 1 Audrey Sanders 4/2/12 Final Paper Literary Studies The Swimmer In 1964, the short story “The Swimmer,” was written by author John Cheever. I find the work to be significant when considering the context from which it emerged. The year 1964 is approximately 19 years after the end of World War II, and it is during these years that the classic idea of “suburbia” is developed. This idyllic idea of suburbia that is expressed in old television shows like Leave it to Beaver, or Happy Days, shows the life of mostly white, upper-middle class families, where dad goes to work and mom is a homemaker, and there doesn’t seem to be any real problems or worries. However, by 1964, this vision of American suburbia appeared to be more of a fantasy than the actual reality. “The Swimmer” is one of the earliest examples expressing the disenchantment felt upon the realization that life in American suburbia had a dark side that hardly resembled the idyllic picture of life painted during that period. Cheever also makes masterful use of powerful symbolism throughout the story, which takes it in to the realm of surrealism. However, the surrealistic aspects work to the advantage of the story, giving it multiple dimensions that take the story beyond a basic social commentary and into the class of Sanders 2 visionary artistry. The combination of precise social commentary and surrealism is one that has helped make “The Swimmer,” such an enduring and popular writing. The beginning of “The Swimmer” immediately sets the tone for the rest of the story, which is that the idyllic suburban America is fantasy, and underneath the façade there is isolation and unhappiness. Therein is described how a typical Sunday afternoon, everybody is lamenting the fact that they drank too much last night, and how one might hear it, “whispered by the parishioners leaving church, heard it

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