Describe the difference between Neddy's experiences before and after the storm in "The Swimmer."

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For the most part, the storm divides Neddy Merrill’s positive and negative experiences. In the first half of the story John Cheever provides some foreshadowing which alerts the reader that all is not well in Neddy’s suburban world and difficulties lie ahead. At first the beautiful, sunny, summer sky reveals...

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For the most part, the storm divides Neddy Merrill’s positive and negative experiences. In the first half of the story John Cheever provides some foreshadowing which alerts the reader that all is not well in Neddy’s suburban world and difficulties lie ahead. At first the beautiful, sunny, summer sky reveals a massive cloud bank in the distance; the sky darkens along with the mood and in tandem with the increasing effort that Neddy must expend.

While Neddy feels strong, he decides to devote his energies to a purely recreational project, swimming through his neighbors’s backyard pools. Merely engaging in any physical exertion will distinguish him from the hungover neighbors with whom he was lazing around the pool. He thinks of himself as a pilgrim or explorer who has a “destiny,” thus endowing his frivolous project with religious overtones and associating him with America’s historical manifest destiny.

His first attempt at the Westerhazy’s pool encourages him to continue. Knowing that he will find friends along the way and with a high heart, he runs across the grass to the Grahams’s house. He accepts a drink from Mrs. Graham, thinking of it as a “hospitable custom” of the natives, but is intent on continuing.

During the next few swims, he is occasionally observed by the homeowner, and sometimes engages with them if they are in the yard. Neddy feels tenderness and affection toward the guests at a party at the Bunkers’s home. He thinks of his community as “bonny and lush.” Kissing the guests, drinking, and smiling, he takes another swim. En route to the next stop, however, “[t]he gravel cut his feet.” Just after having experiencing this small “unpleasantness” and while helping himself to drinks in an empty yard, he notices the dark clouds.

From that point on, Neddy’s experiences and his thoughts largely parallel the increasing darkness of the sky. He imagines a scene at the train station, where a “woman… had been crying.” He finds the prospect of the storm invigorating, but it delays his progress, as he must take shelter until it passes. Immediately, he begins noticing things such as a “blighted” tree and feels “a peculiar sadness” that fall is coming.

Finding the next pool dry leaves him feeling “disappointed and mystified.” After this first sign of his eroding confidence, he becomes increasingly susceptible to negative events and interpretations of all his experiences. After he sets off his “most difficult portage,” the narrator shifts their perspective away from Neddy’s point of view to that of a generic observer. Neddy gets lost and spends more time wandering on the road than swimming. He looks like a “pitiful. . .fool.” The public pool evokes bitterness as he swims through the “murk,” and he is harassed rather than welcomed. By the time he reaches the “naked Hallorans,” who give him the naked truth that he has lost his house, their water is “dark” and to swim would be “too much for his strength.”

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In John Cheever's short story, "The Swimmer," before the storm, Neddy is strong and youthful in his mannerisms. He is confident, and elated by the beauty of the day by the pool. In the midst of this confidence, he decides that he will "swim" home, and so he sets off. As he continues on his journey through the yards—and pools—of his neighborhood, he meets many people.

He visits a number of places on his way where people are thrilled that he has stopped by and want to give him a drink. They are happily surprised to see him and want him to stay and visit. Without being rude, Neddy separates himself each time before he can be deterred from his goal of traveling home, and he resumes his journey.

Soon he notices that the clouds are heralding the arrival of a thunderstorm. Neddy is not at all concerned: he loves thunderstorms and the downpour of rain that flows through the trees.

After the passing of the storm, his surroundings change dramatically. He finds himself trying to cross a littered highway while travelers jeer at him in passing. He next finds himself in a public, chlorinated pool. The experience after enjoying such beautiful pools before, unsettles him. There are signs with rules and people rudely slamming into him as he tries to swim. He is told to leave, and is only too happy to do so.

He visits one set of neighbors who welcome him, but speak about the "misfortunes" in his life that he was unaware of: financial woes, problems with his daughters, the selling his house. He is not sure what they are talking about, but now he begins to suffer self-doubt: his confidence starts to falter.

Neddy starts to feel weak, needing a drink. He stops at a friend's home and realizes that the man has been seriously ill, though Neddy is welcomed graciously enough. Neddy is concerned that he was unaware of what his friend was going through, and promises to call soon. He moves on to another home where a party is thriving. The hostess is not really "his kind of people," but he stops and asks for a drink.

Of all the people he has met on his journey, this is the first time he has been shunned. The hostess is rude to him, and then the bartender as well; the bartender's behavior he takes as a personal slight.

As he continues, Neddy feels weaker and weaker. He cries. He is cold and only wants to go home, get changed and have a drink. The journey has lost its appeal. However, when he reaches his house, it is locked, in disrepair, and empty: not just of people, but furniture as well. It has been vacated: he has vacated it.

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