In "The Swim Team," how do we know the narrator made the right choice in breaking up with her boyfriend?

In "The Swim Team" by Miranda July, the narrator made the right choice in breaking up with her boyfriend because he is concerned only with himself and with sex, which is evidenced by his having a new girlfriend only two weeks after his breakup with the narrator. Additionally, the narrator manifests a lot of subtlety, nuance, and depth of character as she bonds with the old folks over fake swim lessons, and her ex-boyfriend would be unable to understand this.

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The short story "The Swim Team" by Miranda July is a touching story about a lonely young woman, the narrator, who teaches a series of swim lessons to some old folks in their eighties. There are no pools or other bodies of water in the small town of Belvedere where they live, so the narrator conducts the lessons on her kitchen floor with bowls of salt water for the students to stick their heads in to learn breathing.

The lessons are ludicrous, of course, but they fill the needs of the participants nevertheless by relieving their loneliness and breaking the otherwise dismal monotony in a town where nothing ever happens. The narrator and her three students develop a bond as they all make believe the swim lessons together.

There are clues at the beginning and at the end of the story as to why it was a good move for the narrator to break up with her boyfriend. The beginning makes it clear that the narrator is addressing this story to her ex-boyfriend. He kept asking about her time living in Belvedere, but she wouldn't tell him. This is because he seems to have a very shallow perspective that sees everything in terms of sex. When he considers the situation, he imagines the narrator as someone's mistress, or as a prostitute, or naked all the time. The narrator realizes that he would not be able to comprehend the subtle yet fulfilling relationship she shared with the octogenarians, which alleviated everyone's loneliness and gave them a measure of excitement in a place that was bland and boring. Ultimately, the narrator has much more depth of character than her ex-boyfriend seems to have.

At the end of the story, the narrator comments on her ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend, whom she finds out about in a bookstore. She and her ex had only broken up two weeks before, and already he has found someone else. The narrator obviously didn't mean that much to him, or he would have waited longer before finding someone new. He is obviously obsessed with himself and with sex, not with her. This is another good reason for their breakup.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

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