The Themes Of Symbolism In The Swimmer By John Cheever

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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 wearing 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 is visible in various shades of green. However, the trees and bushes seem blurry, as if it is misty. Both works share a common theme of isolation: the artist compares to Neddy Merrill and the figure in Hockney’s painting to Merrill’s neighbours. The artist in Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) by David Hockney shares multiple attributes with John Cheever’s Neddy Merrill from the …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. Merrill’s neighbours and Schlesinger 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. 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 by, whenever they interact with

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