In John Cheever's, "The Swimmer," symbolism is utilized as a powerful method in expressing Ned's idealistic view of his conflicted life. Ned's empty house is effectively used as a symbol; his delusions of grandeur regarding it, is similar to his perspective of life.
Ned's reaction towards the number of bleak characteristics of his house, creates the idea that his overoptimistic attitude is carried on throughout every aspect of his life. When he initially approaches his dark house from the outside, Ned asks himself, "Was it so late that they had all gone to bed? Had Lucinda stayed at the Westerhazey's for supper?"" .
Ned was a man who couldn't accept the realities of life, especially not when it came to his family and his home. He continued to the "locked "garage doors, with the rust coming off the handles onto his hands." Reality was beginning to overtake his weaknesses, symbolized by the rust surpassing from the house to his hands and permanently staining him. He could no longer escape reality with his unrealistic explanations of why his life was miserable; the rusty reality was slowly creeping up from the back of his mind, completely overpowering him eventually. The loose rain gutter "serves as another component of the house that symbolizes Ned's contrast of reality and his perception of it. Ned is the loose rain gutter in his family, knocked away from his family, but another key symbol of his perspective is how he reacts to it; "It could be fixed in the morning"." Similar to the rain gutter, Ned has that attitude consistently and believes that his family problems are just the same. Realistically, rain gutters do not take one morning to fix, and families take much longer. Ned checked again and the house was still locked; this was not going to change and neither was his sad reality.
Ned persists with his uncompromising stance, but he will soon have to accept the truth, and will become permanently marked by the rust on his hand.