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Texas at Arlington Moral Decadence in The Swimmer by John Cheever Essay

Texas at Arlington Moral Decadence in The Swimmer by John Cheever Essay

Question Description

I’m working on a english writing question and need an explanation to help me learn.

General Instructions

The Swimmer by John Cheever

Format: Times New Roman, 12 pt. font, double spaced, default margins

Heading: Clever title that points to the ethical problem you will analyze

Length: Your essay should be a minimum of 1000 words.

Citations: Use MLA in-text citations for textual and narrative evidence


Your essay should answer one of the two following overarching questions, depending on whether you decide to discuss a single work or two:

  • What complex idea about an ethical problem does the work present?
  • Or what different but mutually illuminating ideas do two works present about an ethical issue?

Your answer to one of these questions will serve as your thesis statement, a specific and arguable interpretive claim about the literary work or works. To provide a persuasive, richly textured account of this ethical dilemma in your work(s), you’ll need to consider and smoothly integrate into your discussion the following sub-questions:

  • How is the ethical dilemma concretely depicted in your work(s)? What are the nuances of that depiction?
  • What ethical values are at stake in this dilemma (e.g. individual liberty, duty toward others, truthfulness, fairness, etc.)?
  • What relation does this depiction establish between individuals and institutions?
  • In what sense does the ethical dilemma represent a specific form or instance of a broader social conflict (e.g. does it seem related to societal forms of oppression, such as racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, or religious intolerance)?
  • What are the economic, political, and cultural origins of the conflict, as represented by the author or authors?


Your argument should be well-organized, original, and plausible. You should aim to educate your readers about the work(s) you examine. Each body paragraph should develop a clear idea that helps you to advance your thesis statement through evidence—paraphrased narrative details or direct quotations—that supports your interpretation of the literary work(s). You should analyze the evidence you present in order to explain how it confirms your thesis and to flesh out your interpretation. Be sure to cite any sources that you consult.


A good conclusion doesn’t simply restate the thesis. Rather, by reflecting on the larger ethical and social implications of the issue that the work raises, you can underline why your argument matters. Consider the following questions as you craft your conclusions:

    • In what way is the ethical dilemma you’ve described in the work(s) related to an important ethical issue that we see playing out today? How does the same or a similar ethical problem show up in the world outside of the work?
    • To what degree does this problem resemble those in your work(s) and to what degree has the problem evolved or changed since the work was first written? Is this ethical issue specific to a certain historical or cultural situation, or is it universal? Is it a local, regional, national, and/or global issue? How are perspectives on this ethical problem affected by cultural or social differences?
    • How has your analysis of the literary work challenged you to rethink your understanding of this contemporary ethical issue or affirmed and extended your previous thinking on this topic?

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