The Swimmer

The Swimmer Metaphors and Similes

Rain Gutter as an Umbrella Rib (simile)

When Neddy finally completes his great adventures, he arrives home to a house that is dark, empty, and even a little bit dilapidated. For example, he notices that the storm had knocked a rain gutter loose, and it hangs down over the front door “like an umbrella rib.”

Cloud like a City (simile)

In the evocative first few paragraphs of the story, Cheever describes the placid, beautiful midsummer day in great detail. For example, he points out the fine sky and "massive stand of cumulus cloud so like a city seen from a distance—from the bow of an approaching ship—that it might have had a name. Lisbon. Hackensack."

Love (metaphor)

Cheever's protagonist, Neddy, likens love and sexual acts to a "supreme elixir," a "pain killer," and a "brightly colored pill" that would revive him.

Network of Neighborhood Pools (metaphor)

The central conceit of "The Swimmer" is Neddy's refashioning of the string of his neighbors' pools as a treacherous and exciting new voyage; a winding, watery route which he would be the first to explore. He names this route the "Lucinda River." In this metaphor, a string of backyards is transformed into a new path through geography.