How does Neddy Merrill relate to the world in which he moves? Why does he decide to swim home?

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Neddy in John Cheever's "The Swimmer" relates to his world as one who is entitled to its largess and friendship without thought of giving much, if anything, in return. We learn he slid down the banister that morning and slapped the backside of the bronze Aphrodite statue—actions that reveal his confidence of ownership. After his swim, he breathes heavily, as if to "gulp into his lungs the components of that moment . . . the intenseness of his pleasure." This suggests his hedonistic attitude—he is taking in but not giving back. When he does imagine himself contributing to the world, he considers his trivial offering to be on a par with that of great men of history who actually experienced hardship in order to serve a greater goal.

Envisioning how he might swim the eight miles to his home, he believes "he had made a discovery, a contribution to modern geography; he would name the stream Lucinda after his wife." He imagines himself "a pilgrim, an explorer, a man with a destiny." These...

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