The Swimmer Essay

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Greg Bamhisel is an assistant instructor and assistant director of the Undergraduate Writing Program at the University of Texas at Austin. In the following essay, Bamhisel discusses the major themes of "The Swimmer."

On a literal level, "The Swimmer" is the story of one man's initially fanciful, ultimately quite serious adventure swimming through every pool in the county on his way home. On a deeper level, though, the story alludes to some of Western literature's most enduring themes. Neddy Merrill, Cheever's hero, is Odysseus, Dante, the Fisher King, a knight of King Arthur. Through his story of a man's exhausting journey home, Cheever examines themes of dissociation, alienation, and the loss of purpose.

"The Swimmer" examines the plight of a character familiar to readers of Cheever's fiction. Along with John Updike and J. D. Salinger, Cheever is one of the famous trio of "New Yorker authors" of...

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This section contains 1,699 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Swimmer Study Guide
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The Swimmer from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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