Why does Flick's name have an onomatopoeic quality to it, and how does this sound device help to establish theme and characterization in The Ex-Basketball Player?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Flick's name suggests the renowned high school ex-basketball player's expertise at scoring. This name also creates the image of the basketball player's speed and wrist movement--a movement Updike compares to the flutter of birds' wings--as he quickly sends balls through the hoop of the goal for a score.

....The ball loved Flick.
I saw him rack up thirty-eight or forty
In one home game. His hands were like wild birds.

Flick's name is also connotative of his career: It was short-lived, a mere "flick" of time. Whereas he was once "the best," a local sports hero who "bucketed three hundred ninety points, a county record still," now Flick, who has had but a brief moment of fame, simply works at Berth's Garage. There he pumps gas and checks the oil for customers, along with changing flat tires when needed because he has never learned a trade. Left with only memories of fame in his life of dull routine, the crowds who applauded Flick's skill as a basketball player are gone.