Discuss how Flick's character is revealed in Ex-Basketball Player.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Flick's character is brought out in a variety of contexts in the poem.  The contrast of images is something that allows his characterization of be fleshed out into detail.  On one hand, the image of Flick being a gas station attendant is one stunningly devoid of hope and prosperity.  Updike shows him to be someone whose live is static in lines such as the "idiot pumps" amongst which he "stands tall."  Another instance of this life being one devoid of promise and hope is where Updike talks about "He never learned a trade, he just sells gas."  It is through these images where the reader gains insight that Flick is someone whose life now is nothing as it was.  It is here where the reader gains insight into how Flick used to dominate on the high school basketball court.  Updike talks about statistics to help support this, such as "three hundred ninety points, A county record still" and "thirty-eight or forty In one home game."  It is deliberate that Updike does not give anything else other than Flick's impressive basketball acumen and skill, with "hands like wild birds" and "He was good: in fact, the best."  In this light, Flick's characterization of once having life and vitality is contrasted with the life he leads now as one of stasis and a sense of stunted growth as being his constant companion.

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