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"

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial