Chapter 7: Part III
All exercises are taken from Alice LaPlante’s The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing (NGCW).
The Swimmer by John Cheever
1. When do you first realize that this story might be told completely in a realistic mode?
As Neddy begins his journey to swim home, the readers slowly gets glimpses that the story is not entirely realistic. Some people are not home when he expects them to be, his mistress doesn’t want him anymore, and his friend has been sick for awhile. Neddy is not aware of these things and he starts to question his memory.
2. How does Cheever gradually draw us into the fantastical nature of the events of the story?
Neddy’s friends grow up and deal with adult issues while he does not. He continues to deny reality to the point that his ex-mistress even asks him, “Will you ever grow up?” Time passes without Neddy realizing it and the reader is gradually drawn into his slightly fantastical world.
3. There are two possible explanations for the aspects of the story that don’t make sense (from a view of “reality” as we know it). What are they? What do you believe?The possibilities are that Neddy is either crazy or dreaming or the entire story is a fictional metaphor. I tend to see it as a metaphor, similar to Kafka’s Metamorphosis.