What was the John Cheever's attitude towards affluent suburbia in "The Swimmer"?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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As expressed in his short story "The Swimmer", John Cheever's attitude towards affluent suburbia is one of scorn.  He believes that their values are shallow and unfulfilling, and their lives are hypocritical.

Cheever targets the habits of excess of the rich as his central theme.  Swimming pools, normally considered a luxury, are so numerous in the community in which the story is set that the central character, Neddy, can make an eight-mile journey home by swimming from one pool to another.  Also, the denizens of Cheever's affluent suburbia enjoy having parties which further emphasize their propensity towards obscene spending habits - multiple parties seem to occur every night, they are all catered, and there is too much to drink.

Cheever indicates that the appearance of extreme wealth and well-being presented in the community is actually a facade.  Neddy, who lives the good life, is in reality in financial trouble, and he, as well as the people around him, have not found happiness throught their riches.  The citizens are petty and disingenuous, unfaithful to their families and judgmental of those not included in their social classes.  Neddy himself is desperately seeking meaning in life and a feeling of accomplishment through his bizarre swim through the neighborhood.  Symbolically, he finally manages to get home, to a house that is dark, locked, and empty.


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