Cheever The Swimmer

Decent Essays

In John Cheever’s short story “The Swimmer”, Neddy Merrill decides to take a swim through the country. David Hockney, on the other hand, finalised his painting Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) in 1972, only eight years after the first publication of “The Swimmer” in Cheever’s book Collected Stories and Other Writings. On the left-hand side of the canvas, a breast-stroking swimmer is visible in a pool. The pool water is painted in two colours of blue, one slightly darker than the other. Next to the pool, on the right-hand side, Peter Schlesinger, allegedly, is standing in a red and beige suit. He is looking down at the swimmer in the pool and additionally leans forward to allow himself a better view. In the middle-distance vegetation …show more content…

The first one, and the most obvious, is that both swim in a pool. Whereas the artist breaststrokes through the pool, Merrill starts out by freestyling and later on, as he weakens more and more, also breaststrokes through the many swimming pools. Furthermore, the artist in Hockney’s painting is isolated from the rest of his surroundings, simply because he is under water and the only one in the pool. Neddy Merrill also seems to be isolated as he is the only person in the pool on some occasions: “The party when he joined it was noisy and large […] [and] no one was swimming” (Cheever 735). On the contrary, Merrill is not only isolated because he is the only person swimming in the pools whenever he enters another garden, but because he seems to no longer go to all the parties all his neighbours or friends invite him to the more the story progresses. He does not appear to be in touch with all the people he encounters as they discreetly talk about him when he is standing off to the side: “’They went for broke over night […] [and] he showed up drunk one Sunday and asked us to loan him five thousand dollars’” (Cheever …show more content…

Julie Laverat depicts in a blog article that Peter Schlesinger, Hockney’s former boyfriend, was painted “according to photographs taken at Kensington Gardens” and therefore represents the figure next to the pool. Schlesinger and Merrill’s neighbours look down at the respective person. Whereas the neighbours look down on Merrill in a disregarding manner, Schlesinger looks down at the artist in the pool to view him better, but one could argue that Schlesinger also looks down at the swimmer in a similar disrespecting manner. The disapproval of Shirley Adams contributes to the overall negative atmosphere the neighbours are surrounded with, whenever they interact with

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