Compare Cheever's mid-life crisis males, Neddy Merrill and Francis Weed. Why or how does Francis survive his period of crisis and Neddy lose all he has been 'swimming' for?

Essay by bartleyUniversity, Bachelor'sC+, December 2002

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The Mid-life Crisis' of Cheever's Neddy and Francis

Francis ("The Country Husband") and Neddy ("The Swimmer") both faced a mid-life crisis. They live in the same class of society with similar social expectations. The difference is Francis confronts his problems and comes out even, while Neddy just kept on swimming.

When Francis arrives at home after surviving a plane crash he is upset that no one will listens to his story. He tells his wife that "...he doesn't like to come home every night to a battlefield" (119). but this isn't true because we know that "Nine times out of ten, Francis would be greeted with affection..." (117). so he is exaggerating the point to distance himself. This is the beginning of his mid-life crisis. Our other character, Neddy "...might have been compared to a summer's day, particularly the last hours of one..." (87). Right from the beginning of the story we see hints that the Neddy described in the second paragraph is coming to an end.

He symbolically begins his mid-life crisis when he set out to swim home from the Westerhazy's pool to his own. Along the way he brushes off the people at the first pool he goes to, then isn't recognized at another. After that it all goes down hill, when he crosses the highway which is his descent to a lower class represented as the public swimming pool. Neddy can't explain why he can't turn around and go back, or doesn't want too face reality. In the public pool he tries to keep his head above water and then moves on from there as he tries to re-enter upper society. This is where he is hit with his first taste of the reality that follows.

Clearly Francis is rebelling against the pretentiousness of Shady...