What happens between paragraphs 1-11? And what point is conveyed by the second person narration?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In this first section of John Cheever's unique story, "The Swimmer," Neddy Merrill is the focus of the story as he sits poolside in the warm sun--"he might have been compared to a summer's day, particularly the last hours of one," the narrator suggests in a line taken, at least in part, from Shakespeare's Sonnet 18. Yet he gives the "impression...of youth, sport, and clement weather." Merrill drinks a glass of gin and decides that he will go home via the swimming pools of his neighbors, and make a short odyssey of this trip by naming the pools as part of stream called Lucinda after his wife. It seems that his wife is with him: "When Lucinda asked where he was going he said he was going to swim home."

While the narration is third person, following the fourth paragraph, this narration includes some interior dialogue; for instance, after the end of the fifth paragraph, there is the sense of some confusion in Neddy's mind after he decides to take the role of

...pilgrim, an explorer, a man with a destiny, and he knew that he would find friends all along the way; friends would line the banks of the Lucinda River. 

It is after this point that the story takes on the tone of a parable and the reader is confused whether Neddy is delusional, disorientated, or simply fabricating a story because Neddy assumes the role of "explorer" who must be diplomatic in refusing drinks from neighbors if he desires to reach his home. Then, at one point, the story varies from its usual diction: "Oh, how bonny and lush were the banks of the Lucinda River, again lending the story the legendary/allegorical tone." Further, while Neddy seeks shelter from a storm under the Levy's gazebo, he looks at their maple tree and notices that the leaves are red and yellow as though it is autumn and a great deal of time has passed. Thus, John Cheever moves from a conventionally realistic style to one that is more internal and psychological. 

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