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The Swimmer

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The swimmer

Fear is a common concept that influences our life. It has the ability to keep us from doing things we want to do. But sometimes fear can also be what drives us to cross our own boundary and do what we long to do. Fear can take control over the body and make the adrenalin run faster, overshadowing the common sense and draw the person into follow their lust.
The short story The Swimmer by S.J Butler deals with a young woman whose fear keeps her from doing what she wants, until the sudden lust to follow her desire draws her closer.
Fear for the unknown and desire for change is what draws her to carry out the deed and follow her instinct which luckily turns out to help her be set free.

The short story starts by presenting the present situation of the weather.
“Three weeks of windless sun”[1]
By using the first five sentences to present the weather, the setting is established and the reader is aware of the situation.
The setting is described thoroughly as being a hot summer day which has lasted for three weeks, the wind is not moving, and the sun is burning on the ground.
“nothing moves except the water”[2]
The water is in contrast to the clouds and the wind, moving. The water is conducting in a different way caused to its movements. The introduction to the water continuous but from a different perspective. This leads to an introduction of both the water but also the main character, a woman;
“She sits at her desk in the back room gazing out at the river. Where it rounds the first bend there's an eddy as the current twists out into the middle(..)”[3]
J.S Butler is using the significant points to lean on each other and thereby elaborate the important headlines, in this case the woman and the lake.
The main character is a woman, she works at a desk and her window gives her a view of the nearby lake. The job seam less and less important to the woman throughout the story. The women gives the impression that the job has no significance but is a part of her ordinary day.
“No one has passed for at least three hours.”[4]
This is a proof of her being more interested in the lake and what takes place nearby then focusing on her job.
In opposition the woman feel a fascination towards the lake.
The woman is controlled by her fear which is mostly visible in context to the lake. At a hot summer day the woman feels the need to get cooled down and the lake seams like a perfect solution. Her swimwear is already near her, which indicates that the idea of swimming in the lake has stroke her many times before. The woman has a fear for the lake and it is so strong that it is preventing her from going for a swim.
The hot summer day makes her defy the fear because it gives her an excuse to pursue what she is longing to do.
“Out on the river path she takes long fast steps”[5]
The woman is aware of her own fear and that she has to get down in the water before the fear will catch up on her and persuade her to go back to her office.
The woman is encouraged and goes into the water where she finds a swan. She is amazed by the beauty of the swan and she feels drawn by the fear the swan brings with it.
The woman spends a lot of time in the water trying to get closer to the swan, which is similar to the time she spend overcoming her fear of going into the water. Because she has succeeded overcoming her fear once she has found courage to try again which is what leads her to follow the swan first at a distance and later on close enough to touch it.
The swan seams to by a mystery because there are signs of it being dead but also being alive.
“It doesn't hiss, nor arch its wings”[6]
The swan dos not seem to take notice of the woman's presence which could by a symbol of it being dead already. At the same time warm blood floats out of the swan into the water which suggest that the swan is alive during the time she spends with it.
The narrator describes the situation as if the swan where caught as it flew down onto the water. This suggest that the swan has been caught for some time and has been suffering for some time. The woman can relate to the swan referring to the feeling of being held back, which she is released from when she dives into the water. The swan must have been fascinated with the water as well as the woman, and decided to fly onto the water. In contrast to the woman, the swan had no chance of getting physically away on its own and meanwhile the woman began to be more and more attached to the swan and she started spending all her time thinking about it and being near it.
When her fear disappeared contrary to the time she spend in the lake, the woman began to untie herself more and more from the boring life she has had.
“(..) untwisting the line where the bird bound itself in its struggle”[7]
The similarity between the bird and the woman are many, not only the struggle for getting free is alike but also the ending of the short story has curtain similar traits.
The swan was caught by a hook and in the attempt of getting free of it, the fishing line bound the swan deeper into the line, and it can not get out without help.
The woman has the ability to help the swan, and with the help of each other the set each other free. The swan free of the fishing line, and the woman from her regular and boring life.

The woman and the swan have similarities which suggest that the narrator is describing the same situation twice but from the different perspectives.
They are both hold down by something and the need each others help to get free.
The fear and the curiosity are what tempts them towards the lake, and even if the swan seem more distant and reserved than the woman, their future is bound together until the set each other free.

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[ 1 ]. J.S Butler The Swimmer page 2 line 3
[ 2 ]. J.S Butler The Swimmer page 2 line 4
[ 3 ]. J.S Butler The Swimmer page 2 line 6
[ 4 ]. J.S Butler The Swimmer page 2 line 11
[ 5 ]. J.S Butler The Swimmer page 2 line 27
[ 6 ]. J.S Butler The Swimmer page 4 line 110
[ 7 ]. J.S Butler The Swimmer page 6 line 152

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