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The Swimmer
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Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
The Swimmer by John Cheever is a short story that reflects on one man's life while he was pulling an adventurous swim through many pools in his area in a single summer afternoon.

The story was made into a same-name movie 1968 starring Burt Lancaster in the main role.

The story itself you can read for free online at Library of America Archive.


Silver Quite an interesting story. It felt so familiar to me while reading it, though I am certain I haven't read the story. I thought maybe I had seen the movie, but the video clip for the trailer didn't ring any bells it is possible that I had caught it on TV once upon a time ago.

I thought it was a bit amusing how he would just pop into the backyards of various neighbors to swim in their pools and most of them did not seem bothered by it or think it was odd. They all acted as if it was quite normal for someone to just show up uninvited in their backyard.

Also I wondered what the significance was of him discovering his home empty when he finally got there?

Is this story supposed to represent mans life/growing old? Starting out optimistic on this crazy adventure is the youth of man, but than as it gets later and darker and harder to swim, and ultimately finding himself alone at the end of the journey is the older years (and ultimate end) of man's life?


Alana (alanasbooks) | 730 comments I wasn't sure if it was representative of seasons of life, or if he's merely crazy and not recognizing the passing of time (such as his neighbors responding to him differently as he goes, the seasons changing and getting colder, the empty house at the end). I wasn't quite sure what to make of it, if it's more a crazy man or a commentary about not swimming through life and taking no notice of it?


Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
It seems plausible to me that it was an allegory for the life itself - the journey from the youthful energy and the enthusiasm, to the navigation through difficult business and personal relationships, to the demolition and surrender of strength and mind to old age and darkness. It was really an extraordinary story. I wonder how the movie interpreted it!


Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
I finally watched the movie. It was a bit uneven, dialogues strange (well, it was that kind of the movie), but Burt Lancaster gave a great performance.

It didn't seem plausible friends from the beginning would receive him so heart-warmingly if they knew what we discovered as he went on with his trip across the county. By the way, how did he come to their property with swimming trunks only? Nobody didn't question that?

I liked the story better. It was ambiguous, left open to our interpretations, but in the movies, I like to have at least some sort of conclusion. Here I wasn't sure, what happened to him and why? (view spoiler)


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