What is Cheever's attitude toward Neddy in "The Swimmer" and how does the story's point of view showcase it?

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The narrator of “The Swimmer” is omniscient, meaning that the narrator does not have a particular point of view. Still, from the way John Cheever constructed the story, we can surmise the author’s feelings toward his main character, Neddy Merrill, and the world he inhabits.

Cheever plotted the...

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The narrator of “The Swimmer” is omniscient, meaning that the narrator does not have a particular point of view. Still, from the way John Cheever constructed the story, we can surmise the author’s feelings toward his main character, Neddy Merrill, and the world he inhabits.

Cheever plotted the story so that, in the beginning, as Neddy starts his planned journey to swim across all the pools of his county, we see a man who is included and welcomed in high society and offered drinks. As the story continues, people begin to refer to his recent misfortunes. A turning point in “The Swimmer” is when Neddy must swim in a public pool, an experience he finds distasteful and a milieu toward which he feels clear disdain. Once Neddy’s journey takes him back to his wealthy neighbor’s pools, things have changed. Suddenly, it is his former friends and neighbors who feel disdain for him. It becomes increasingly clear that Neddy’s fortunes have indeed changed, and he is no longer included among his old crowd.

Cheever makes it clear through this progression and these attitudes that high-society folks (including Neddy Merrill) and their relationships to one another are shallow and almost solely dependent on a person’s money and status.

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The story The Swimmer, by John Cheever is written in a limited, third-person, omniscient, and objective point of view. This is a literary technique often chosen by authors to allow the reader to create their own conjectures as to what is going on in the minds of the characters, and as a way to include the reader in the resolution of the plot.

However, Cheever is clear in that his purpose with Neddy is to use him as a poster-boy for a corporate, business-hungry, and shallow America. This being said, Cheever's attitude towards Neddy shows that his main character is selfish, empty, and somewhat cold-hearted. Cheever clearly does not bestow much honor upon Neddy.

If we analize this, Neddy is not unlike the rest of his cronies in the story. They all talk about nothing but business, even during parties. They even talk about people behind their backs. Neddy, particularly, is hedonistic and self-centered. His stint of swimming was his own way of trying to cope with the fact that he was a ruined man.

Concisely, Cheever uses Neddy to expose how people can become so consumed with ambition that they can lose track of everything else in life.

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