In John Cheever's short story, "The Swimmer," introduces immediately the main character Neddy Merrill. A seemingly upper class man, with four beautiful daughters and nice home in a wealthy neighborhood, the reader gets the sense that this man is well off. He is at a party thrown by the Westerhazy's when he realizes that he needs to get home. Instead of walking home or driving, he swims the Lucinda River. This "river" is actually just a string of pools that lie in people's backyards that he decides to swim through. This is the action that most would consider strange. This is when there is a sense of peculiar behavior problems that must have stemmed from something traumatic happening to Neddy. This is confirmed at the end of the story when he finally gets home and his house is empty with no one to be seen. The motivation used to justify his actions is because he does not want to face reality, he has a severe drinking problem, and he has a mental disability that greatly affects his judgment. .
Neddy does not want to accept the reality of his broken life. Just the fact that the whole time he is swimming the river to get home shows that he might believe that with a sliver of hope, that his family will be there waiting for him. "He would name the stream Lucinda after his wife." (p. 623) At this point in the story, it might be thought that he is in love with his wife Lucinda, and named the river after her because he loves her. It is found at the end though that is probably just because he cannot accept the fact that his .
wife is gone. "We"re terribly sorry to hear about your misfortunes Neddy," said Mrs. .
Halloran. "I don't know what you mean." (p. 627) This shows that he possibly is in denial and does not want to believe that he has any misfortunes. He is, after all, a rich man with a beautiful family.
It is obvious Neddy has a drinking problem. The beginning of the story shows that.