Neddy Merrill's 'The Swimmer'

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In “The Swimmer” Neddy Merrill has a perfect family, a high social standing, and a pricey suburban home, or at least he thought so. Neddy masters all the rules of the world he lives. He accepts and rejects invitations according to rigid social hierarchy and engages in all the expected activities: tennis matches, drinking gin, and sailing the sea. He has many friends, and his position in the privileged world allows him to jump from pool to pool uninvited, and confident that he will be welcomed with each one. If there is any unpleasantness in Neddy’s world he ignorantly opts not to see it. Even though he is no longer young, he prides himself on his youthful strength and seems to see himself on invincible. He exists in a state of bliss that leaves…show more content…
Neddy’s ignorance to his life around him made him unable to see that he had lost the life he thought he had. At the beginning of “The Swimmer” the narrator informs us that Neddy is “far from young,” (234) however he does his best to act young by sliding down the banister that morning and diving head first into the pools. We begin at the Westerhazy’s house, friends of Neddy and his wide’s, where it seems to be like a timeless afternoon, one that we can assume is no different than other afternoons spent the same way. A drink by the pool with friends after a long night of drinking. As Neddy’s journey progresses, we see that time is actually moving much more quickly than Neddy realizes. As though the years he has ignorantly refused to see flash before his…show more content…
At the beginning of the story, Neddy is strong and active, he feels deep pleasure with his life, and is admired by his friends. In his mind he still lives eight miles away with his wife and four daughters. Warm in the sun, he feels like a “legendary figure,” (235) as though there is nothing that he cannot accomplish. As he travels from pool to pool Neddy changes, however does not realize it at first, because he is still too ignorant to see. Physically Neddy grows weaker, unable to pull himself out of the pools without the ladder and unwilling to dive head first any longer. He no longer feels warm, but rather chilled to the bone. Around him the summer air grows cooler, storms pass through, and the trees lose their leaves with the feel of autumn. He even comes to see that his social circle has changed. Once respected and given to snubbing those who aren’t part of his group, he is now snubbed by Grace Biswanger and the bartender at her party. Other acquaintances pity him for his “misfortunes,” which Neddy isn’t aware that he has suffered (240). A lot has happened as he’s been moving from pool to pool, and Neddy has undergone these changes

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