“The Swimmer” by John Cheever describes Neddy Merril’s “swim” home. Neddy is a husband and a father, he is also a drunk. The story encompasses about twenty years of his life of alcohol which ruined not only him but also his relationship with his family. One day after waking up with a hangover he drinks a little and decides to swim home. It is obvious he is a drunk because he is constantly searching for a drink on his swim home. Neddy was a wealthy man living in a wealthy high class neighborhood in Connecticut. He lived with his wife and kids.
He was popular and had material possessions. He was iving the good life, maybe too good. He was well respected and could usually be found at one of the invite only parties in his area. Neddy awoke from with a hangover one day and decided to swim home via the Lucinda river. The river was composed of the pools of people in his neighborhood. It was his version of “pool hopping” his way home. The story seems to take place over the course of a day but is, in fact, a twenty year period of his life in which alcoholism takes over his life and causes his family to desert him.
Each pool he hops symbolizes a party he attended at that house some time over he course of the twenty years. Some pools bring back good memories with the parties which accompanied them. some not so good such as the public pool which wouldn’t accept him because he didn’t have the proper ID tag, they didn’t want a washed up drunk in their pool anyway. “Hey, you, you without the identification disk, get outta the water” called a lifeguard. He was becoming an outcast from society, alcohol was ruining his life. As the story progressed he noticed the seasons changing and it bothered him.
He was getting cold and lonely, the way an alcoholic gets when they start to realize they are osing everything they have, especially their friends and social status. At the Biswanger’s party ” the bartender served him but he served him rudely” a sign that he was not the man he used to be. Usually if a bartender knows a man he will have his drink ready for him with a smile. Not the case anymore for Neddy, at this point he realized he was losing something, his pride. Upon his return home he finds his house in bad condition, vines growing on it, rust on the handle of the garage door, the lights off, and nobody home.
He stands there cold and hopeless in his worn and torn athing suit searching for answers as to where he went wrong. He went wrong for the past twenty years drinking himself into oblivion. The story of Neddy Merril is indeed a sad one. He had everything, wealth, popularity, material possessions, a family which cared for him, and a passion for booze which wouldn’t go away. His status dropped, his physical condition suffered and worst of all his family deserted him. His swim home was in fact a long party which he seemed to enjoy until it all caught up to him and he was left with nothing, at the end he was as good as, if not, dead.