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"Ex-basketball player” by John Updike

The poem is titled “Ex-basketball player” by John Updike. This poem is about the life of a man who was once a popular basketball player in high school is now working at a gas station. During Johns earlier years the town identified him as amazing but soon becomes known as “fall out.” Although Johns past life was filled with fame and glory he is no longer the same man that he used to be in high school. He is currently a gas attendant who has appeared who has seemed to reach a lost point in his life. The speaker in the poem is identified as a fan of Flick Webb. One thing to point out is that Flicks name is a symbol for the way he shoots the ball. This poem focuses how on an ex basketball player who was once the towns “hero” and the aftermath of his athletic abilities failing to soon.

The first stanza starts off with short geographical information concerning Flicks hometown. Although Flicks hometown is never discovered in the poem it is assumed that the he lived in a small town. The speaker gives a brief description of where Flick worked and attended school. The Personification is found in (In.1) where Pearl Avenue is identified as the streets of where Flick would pass through to get to school and work. The Avenue is identified as a symbol because in the beginning of his life he is going strong but later reaches a cut off at a gas station. It is almost like John made a pit stop and never seemed to continue his journey. This symbolizes all the decisions he has made in his life. In the poem you discover that John’s fame and glory was shortened because he wasn’t given a chance to improve or become the best that he can be. Another thing to point out is that you will find Flick spending many of his time (in4) “helping his friend Berth out” working at a garage. This insinuates that Flick may have lived a lonely life with very few friends.

The second stanza in the poem begins (In. 7) where Updike explains the comparison of how Flick is working at the same place as the basketball. When Flick observes the team he is reminded of his past basketball life. Updike describes how flick “stands tall” while he is surrounded by “idiot pumps.” In other words, Flick is illustrating that basketball players are amateurs. Updike is describing if the gas pump with human characteristics by imaging what they would like if the “elbows” didn’t have any bones in them. In this section the tone is expressed as you are reminded of the fact that john isn’t the towns star but simply a short lived player. John is working at a garage is to sell gas whereas as the high school kids are living his dream. As he observes the basketball players he is reminded of what he could have been in the future.

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