Art purporting to be rooted in realism is plentiful, but the truest examples ultimately turn out to be desultory reflections on pointless effort that leaves the beholder in despair, with any moment of joy and hope contained therein understood to be mere accidents in context. The truth is, many films, books, and songs that boast the “true-to-life” stamp frequently diverge into the absurdism borne not of existence itself but entirely of the creators fancy, where fantastical situations abound not for the purpose of proving true the pithy philosophy of Vonnegut (“So it goes”) but rather to alleviate the pain, or give it a different shape.
Peanuts hit its marks with devastating accuracy: the cruelty of children, the heroism of effort, the demoralization of unrequited love. Still, Charles Schulz understood that no matter how much wit and wisdom he gave to these oddly-drawn little creatures, they were still the stars of a comic strip. Not a novel or epic film. Above all else, Peanuts had to be funny.
Here we see Charlie Brown the outsider, pretty much the only kid not having a blast in the pool. There is no room for him, and he knows better than to ask, bully his way in, or wait his turn. Despondent, he trudges to the only option he can find–a water bucket.
The sight gag/physical impossibility is brilliant, especially since Charlie Brown has a big fat watermelon head. Schulz repeated the gag 28 years later, giving the impression that this turned into something of a tradition for ol‘ Chuck.