Every human is different everyone has their own obstacles and fears for some it might be heights spiders or clowns for our protagonist in the short story The Swimmer by S J Butler the fear is about life itself where every little decision you take can change everything in your life The story takes place by a river close to a field surrounded with trees and an office where a woman watches the river every day The weather is described as hot and everything is very calm In the river the setting is the opposite of its surroundings it is cold fresh and the water is opaque swirling with tiny particles a dirty muddy green from the soil it carries L 48 49 The main character has a feeling of wanting to try or do something new something refreshing and different just like the river The opposites between the river and its surroundings has an important meaning for the main characters development The main character is a person who according to this story lets a lot of things hold her back things as simple as going for a swim in the lake because what if someone sees me Even though swimming in a lake is a simple and normal task she is still afraid of the fishermen seeing her she mentions that one time she made it all the way to the bank of the river only for her to give in and turn back
The second time she walks into it without thinking too much about it maybe because she knows that she will lose her courage if she does she does express some concern for the waters current and depth afraid that she will get dragged under symbolizing that she doesn't know how strong her anxiety and fear actually are and that she isn't confident enough in herself to trust that she can pull through but also symbolizing herself as a person she doubts not only her physical strength but also her personal strength by not having the ability to carry out what she really wants At the first step into the water she is only just barely touching the water but then she takes the leap and she is bathed in cold water and it feels as though her body has been awakened from a daze Here she undergoes a major development as her confidence in herself grows and she pushes away from the safety of the bank and swims upstream towards the bend It is also a stark contrast to the small hot office she sits in everyday where she can only gaze at the river
Once she is swimming she realizes that her fear of being noticed was a much smaller issue than she thought the banks are 10 feet tall and easily hides her from view The swan she meets symbolizes herself The swan looks calm and still although that under the surface it must surely be paddling L 73 Just like the woman who may look normal on the outside but she still has a lot to battle with on the inside She is confronted with the swan and there's nowhere for her to hide L 86 she is now coping with her fear and as time goes by she finds herself being able to get closer and closer to the swan symbolizing that she is slowly finding herself again the person who is not weighted down by fear or insecurities She stops caring about being seen and is drawn to the swan more often than not Her nan used to tell her a swan could break a man's arm with its wing she stops worrying about what it could do to her down in the water L 80 82 In her last swim in the story she gets fully up close with the swan and she realizes that the swan is stuck and tangled up in line and can t get free she helps it by Untwisting the line where the bird bound itself in its struggle L 152 There are many similarities between the trapped swan and the trapped woman
They are both struggling to become free and their endings have somewhat similar traits Without the help of the woman the swan could not get free and without the help of the swan the woman probably wouldn't have been freed from her fear of swimming in the lake The way she describes the swan throughout the story makes it unclear whether or not the swan is dead or alive It doesn't hiss nor arch its wings and it never swims towards her nor away from her when she approaches it but when she untangles it from the line warm blood mixes with the water and it slowly drifts down the stream leaving it unclear to us if it survived or died This can also symbolize how close she was in losing herself completely the swan being her had been stuck for so long that is was at the brink of death when she releases it and it drifts away she is letting go of her fears and uncertainties never to be seen again All in all the story is the journey of a woman who is overcome with fear and insecurities finally letting go and finding herself in the form of a swan who swims in the river she so long has yearned to swim in herself She gains back her confidence and in the end she realizes that the swan was stuck in fishing net she frees it and by doing so she frees herself and lets her anxiety float away in the current until she can't see the difference between it and the mist anymore
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