In "Ex-Basketball Player," what is John Updike's attitude?

Asked on by escobedo13

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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What do you mean by attitude? You might find it helpful to expand on this question and make it more specific? Do you mean what attitude does Updike have about Flick Webb and his situation in life? I think we can clearly infer that Updike feels great sadness for Flick Webb, who, like Pearl Avenue, has started off with so much hope only to be curtailed suddenly:

Pearl Avenue runs past the high-school lot,

Bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off

Before it has a chance to go two blocks...

The geography of the streets matches the trajectory of Flick Webb's life: both are "cut off" before they have a chance to go anywhere. In addition, you might like to consider the way that Updike presents Flick Webb as a character who is haunted by the ghosts of his former victories, which is made all the more poignant by the way in which his current life is so devoid of success, meaning or purpose. Consider the last three lines of the poem:

Flick seldom says a word to Mae, just nods

Beyond her face toward bright applauding tiers

Of Necco Wafers, Nibs, and Juju Beads.

The way that the metaphor in these lines is used to compare the tiers of candy to the "bright applauding" bleachers of his former matches creates a pitiful picture of a man who cannot reconcile his early success with his present mediocre existence.

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