Ex-Basketball Player

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A Reading of Updike’s
“Ex-Basketball Player”

The purpose of this essay is to inform the reader about a poem by John Updike, called “Ex-Basketball player”. The speaker in the poem talks about a man named Flick Webb and his apathetic life. He informs the reader about Flick Webb’s exceptional talent as a basketball player in high school. Towards the end of the poem the realization is that Flick Webb’s exceptional basketball talent had been berried under his reality of life. In the eyes of the towns people there is a bit of sorrow towards him. It is as if there was an amazing talent that was or was not realized but was never pursued. Through out the poem, “Ex-Basketball Player” Updike makes sure to show glimpses of his once renounced passion for basketball. The mood of the poem goes from explaining in detail facts and scenes of his life. Than it changes tone to a extraordinary high school basketball player. Than it quickly changes to a depressed feel that nothing ever came of it.

In the first stanza of the poem Updike simply states the facts how Flick Webb’s life took place on one street. The high school where he was once and exceptional athlete and Berth’s Garage where he works now. The only two major events in his life all takes places in less than two blocks. Updike writes the first stanza as if he is writing a story. There are no hidden details or comparisons it is all just stated. Updike is trying to inform the reader how small Flick Webb’s life was.

In the second stanza Updike has a very creative way of describing Flick Webb’s place of work. In stead of Updike just stating Flick Webb works at a gas station, he hides in a underlying message. Updike explains every last detail of how the gas station looks even down to a perfect explanation of the gas pumps. “ Flick stands tall among the idiot pumps- Five on a side, the old bubble-head style, Their rubber elbows hanging loose and low. One’s nostrils are two S’s, and his eyes An E and O. And one...
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