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Shirley Adams
Shirley Adams is Neddy's former mistress. When Neddy arrives at her home, she is shocked by his presence and warns him that she will not lend him any money. She is with a younger man.

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Grace Biswanger
Grace Biswanger is hosting a party when Neddy arrives and is angered by his presence, calling him a gate-crasher. Grace regularly invites Neddy and his wife to her parties, but they consistently decline. Neddy and his wife consider the Biswangers socially inferior. Grace reveals that Neddy is broke and has attempted to borrow money from her and her husband.

Enid Bunker
Enid Bunker is an acquaintance of Neddy's and Lucinda's. She and her husband are hosting a pool party that Neddy interrupts on his swim home. Neddy and his wife were invited to the party but decided not to attend it. Enid is subsequently surprised and happy to see Neddy there, and she detains Neddy on his journey by giving him a drink, assuming that he has come to join the festivities.

Mrs. Halloran
Mrs. Halloran is the mother of Helen Sachs and is one of Neddy Merrill's friends whom he encounters on his swim home while she sits next to her pool reading The New York Times. She and her husband are elderly and rich. They are also something of non-conformists. They prefer to swim in the nude and are rumored to be communists. Mrs. Halloran is the first character in the story to mention Neddy's recent misfortunes, all of which Neddy denies.

Lucinda Merrill
Lucinda Merrill is Neddy Merrill's wife. It is after her that Neddy names the stream of pools that he has "discovered." She, like Neddy, is active in their neighborhood's social circle. Because of her relationship with the Biswangers, it is implied that she and Neddy are somewhat snobbish and unwilling to associate with the "wrong" sort of people. When the story opens, she speaks her only line: "We all drank too much."

Neddy Merrill
The protagonist of "The Swimmer," Neddy Merrill, has a young, active, and playful spirit. He is described as having slid down the bannister earlier in the day even though he is approaching middle age. He is also likened ''to a summer's day, particularly the last hours of one, and ... the impression [he made] was definitely one of youth, sport, and clement weather.'' He sees himself as something of a heroic figure and explorer and decides to swim home through the chain of pools in his suburban...

(The entire section contains 632 words.)

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Critical Essays