Examine how the symbolism of the journey reflects human consciousness in "The Swimmer."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that there is much in way of the symbolism in the journey that Neddy undertakes and its connection to modern being in the world.  On one hand, the quest has significance to Neddy and that's about it. If there was a shared understanding of the quest that Neddy undertakes, his wife would not have left and the other neighbors would have been more understanding.  Instead, the journey that Neddy commences has significance to him and him alone.  This reflection is one that shows the symbolism of the modern journey as one undertaken by individuals, whose significance is only understood by the individual.  Another element of symbolism in this journey is that it fails to accomplish anything of meaning.  Neddy is able to complete his journey.  Enduring pain and struggle, he ends up finishing the journey.  Yet, when he returns to an empty house with no one there, Neddy's pounding on the door to no one there is the culmination of his journey.  It is one in which all toil and endeavor has been done and given, with nothing of significance at the end of it.  The symbolism of the emptiness of the journey is evident at the end of the narrative.


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