Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Updike is particularly proficient in choosing words and gestures to emphasize the outstanding qualities of his characters. In depicting the immaturity of Ace Anderson, the author uses words that are associated with the teenage milieu of about 1950. Ace feels crowded by Evey and his mother. He feels threatened by the teenager in the next lane and calls him a miserable wop. When he tries to turn on the charm, Evey becomes “Baby.” In his view, it is not his fault that he was fired. In the lingo of the jock, Ace calls attention to the terrific hands of Bonnie, claiming that she is a natural.

Ace resembles a teenager, too, in his gestures. He flicks on the radio and beats time to the popular song. He sucks on a cigarette and snaps the match out the window, scoring two points in the perennial basketball game in his mind. He runs from his mother’s house to his own with Bonnie in his arms. Ace makes a ritual out of combing his hair. He whips it back and flips it out of his eyes. He seizes Evey and spins her into a dance routine in the concluding scene. He is continually in motion, as if his physical activity will conquer the strength of Evey, who prefers to see his energy channeled into the proper course of making money. Thus, the details of the story unobtrusively work together to create a coherent pattern of imagery.

Ace in the Hole Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Bloom, Harold, ed. John Updike: Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.

Boswell, Marshall. John Updike’s Rabbit Tetralogy: Mastered Irony in Motion. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000.

Greiner, Donald. John Updike’s Novels. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1984.

Luscher, Robert M. John Updike: A Study of the Short Fiction. New York: Twayne, 1993.

Miller, D. Quentin. John Updike and the Cold War: Drawing the Iron Curtain. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2001.

Newman, Judie. John Updike. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988.

Schiff, James A. John Updike Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1998.

Updike, John. Self-Consciousness: Memoirs. New York: Knopf, 1989.

Uphaus, Suzanne Henning. John Updike. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1980.