Unlike the deterministic theme of “The Blood Bay,” Miranda July’s “The Swim Team” explores the narrator’s power to respond to the reality around her. Does she triumph over the forces that were working against her?

The narrator in “The Swim Team” might have triumphed over the forces that were working against her because she was able to create a swimming pool despite her environment. Conversely, the narrator might not have triumphed over the forces that were working against her because these forces are arguably not forces but problems of her own making.

Expert Answers

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From one angle, the narrator in Miranda July’s short story “The Swim Team” does triumph over the forces working against her. She doesn’t have an actual swimming pool, yet she doesn’t let that stop her from conducting swimming lessons. This indicates a victory over her environment. The narrator wills her surroundings to meet her needs rather than passively accept the forces that deprive her, Jack Jack, Kelda, and Elizabeth of a swimming pool.

Swimming pool aside, one might also think about how the narrator is triumphing over herself. The narrator could be seen as a force that the narrator has to confront. She has to deal with her aimlessness, which she does by turning herself into a valued swim coach.

From another angle, one might be hesitant to state that the narrator triumphs over the forces against her. Unlike the cowboys in Annie Proulx’s short story “The Blood Bay,” the narrator in “The Swim Team” is not facing forces beyond her control. Again, a lot of what she’s up against is her own doing. She chose to lie to her parents about her employment status. She opted not to ask them for the money to move.

Without dismissing the narrator’s ability to overcome her sluggishness and create a position (and a pool) for herself, one could argue that’s it’s melodramatic to liken the narrator’s predicament to that of the cowboys, who don’t have as much say in how the Wyoming environment treats them. Additionally, think about why it's easier to alter human-made environments, like one’s kitchen, than natural environments, like the Wyoming landscape.

An assessment like the one above makes it possible to claim that what’s shown in “The Swim Team” is not a triumph over external forces but, rather, imagination and an attitude adjustment.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

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