A. It can be.
"Parallel" has a sense in grammar and a sense in rhetoric. Most people in grade school learn the grammatical form of parallelism.
This kind of parallelism is required by good grammar. What is wrong with the incorrect example is that the objects of the verb "like" ought to be both in the same form, but "to swim" is the infinitive and "riding" is the gerund. The sentence could be repaired by making them both infinitives: I like to swim and to ride horseback. The sentence would also be fine if both were the gerund: I like swimming and horseback riding. The error is in the mismatch.
Now consider: I like horseback riding. Jerry likes to swim.
These sentences do not violate grammatical parallelism. It is true that in one sentence we have "like riding," where the object of "like" is the gerund "riding," while in the other sentence the object of "like" is the infinitive "to swim." But this is not a grammatical problem because there are two different sentences. "Like" can take either the infinitive or the gerund, and there is nothing grammatically wrong with either sentence. Grammatical parallelism only pertains to parts within a single sentence.
As a matter of style, parallelism may govern sentences, paragraphs, or whole scenes.
Grammatical parallelism is a requirement of simple literacy. Stylistic parallelism is an effective way of writing about similar things. It emphasizes both the similarity and the differences among similar ideas. Stylistic parallelism is widely applicable. For example, in a technical manual, you might have to define a number of mathematical functions. You would be most sensible to give each of the definitions in the same order, perhaps describe the arguments the functions take first, then what the function returns, and finally how the function is calculated. This would have enormous advantages over describing the various aspects of the functions willy-nilly.
Parallelism, as a matter of style, may go beyond grammatical structure. For example Lincoln's description of a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" is composed of phrases that are obviously parallel in structure; they are all prepositional phrases. But Lincoln went further and used the same word in all three phrases. Grammatically, the phrases would have been just as parallel if Lincoln had said "of the citizens, by the electorate, and for the public." Clearly the poetry of the passage depends upon the parallelism going beyond merely grammatical parallelism.
Parallelism is just as useful in fiction. Sometimes not only sentences and paragraphs are written in parallel, but also whole scenes or chapters. A concluding scene may, for example, have many similarities to the open scene; characters who meet on a bridge may part on a bridge, and so forth. Such parallels can add a sense of balance and unity to a literary work.
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