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How does Updike bring meaning to the poem, "Ex-Basketball Player," and to the character...

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danuw | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 12, 2009 at 2:28 AM via web

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How does Updike bring meaning to the poem, "Ex-Basketball Player," and to the character by naming him Flick?

poetic devices of John Updike in "The Ex-Basketball Player"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 12, 2009 at 2:58 AM (Answer #1)

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Once the star of the local high school basketball team, Flick, in John Updike's poem "Ex-Basketball Player" fulfills the metaphoric meaning of his name and is stellar only for a brief "flick" of light in time.  While he was a high school student, Flick was an important figure in the community.  But, now, because he "never learned a trade, he just sells gas."  His hands, that were once like "wild birds" still can move quickly, but there is no longer any importance attached to this movement:  "It makes no difference to the lug wrench, though" that Flick now moves to change tires.

His name, which probably meant flicking a basketball so quickly into the goal--he had "three hundred ninety points"--is without meaning, as is his life spent in trivial tasks helping Berth at the garage or hanging out at Mae's luncheonette when he is not "playing" at a mockery of his game by dribbling an inner tube.  Flicks life, in short, has become a mockery of what it once was, for he cannot go beyond his glory days in high school since he hangs out at the luncheonette like a high schooler would and plays basketball with the inner tubes.

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