Analysis Of John Updike's Ex-Basketball Player

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In John Updike’s poem “Ex-Basketball Player” the poet uses literary devices to depict the existing way of life of a once-famous sportsperson. Flick Webb was in before times a gifted athlete on his high school basketball team, and he was commendable of much awe. However, Flick never acquired any other skills to prepare him for a future. Accordingly, he now is locked into an unskilled job and his former glories have pale to all but Flick himself. Updike has created a character that is at this point in time going nowhere and spends most of his time thinking about his former days of glory. Flick dwells more restricted by the past than the present because the past was much brighter for him. Flick’s emotional retreat into his earlier period is exposed …show more content…

Updike makes widespread use of personifying. The street Flick works on is personified as “running,” “stopping,” “bending,” and being “cut off” before it has a “chance” (Updike). All of these images similarly apply to Flick. The gas pumps are personified as “idiot pumps,” similar to guards in basketball. Only Flick’s, lost in his daydreams, could pass by the pumps; imagine them as guards on a basketball team. In stanza three the ball is personified to lay emphasis on flicks skill, and a simile likens Flick’s hands to wild birds. Yet irrelevant, the lug wrench is personified in the next stanza we jumped back to the present. While “the ball loved flick” (Updike) the lug is indifferent to Flick’s skill. In the last stanza, a metaphor depicts flick as standing “kind of coiled”, signifying the old basketball player within flick is still ready to spring. The last two lines liken the town of candy to former applauding audiences in the seats. Of course, only Flick is able to imagine them as such, which tells how much Flick is rivetted in the past. Thus, the variety of uses of figurative language show the reader what is going on in Flick’s mind, and the reader sees that Flick is eluding into fantasies about former victories. Updike depicts Former athlete to the current gas station attendant, allowing the reader to sympathize with Flick’s partiality for reminiscing. Updike employs a number of words regularly linked with sports to imply the former athlete’s skill. Words such as “runs,” “bends,” “stops” and “cut off” (Updike) are strong action words often used to express actions in basketball. In stanza three, where the speaker reflects back on flick’s character, the specific word choice stresses Flick’s athletic ability. Words such as “bucketed,” “county record still,” (Updike) and “rack up” highlights his achievements. Yet the words the speaker uses to describe the

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