Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Although The Sportswriter deals with such subjects as love, marriage, divorce, and death, it is primarily an examination of attitudes toward life. Ford refuses to sneer at or reject the conventions, however banal, of middle-class American existence. Frank’s life and observations imply that there is something almost heroic about learning to live within the limitations imposed by these conventions. As Lynette Arcenault, Vicki’s devotedly Catholic stepmother, observes, alienation is not a workable option. Frank argues forcefully against the randomness of life, saying that “down deep we’re all reaching out for a decent rewarding contact every chance we get.”

Frank also has much to say about the nature of literature, sportswriting, and sports. He abandons writing fiction for complicated reasons. His need to live only in the present makes him lose his anticipation for what will happen next, a must for the creative writer. He finds the seriousness required of the fiction writer too gloomy. He resent writers who turn people into stereotypes; he finds the real world engaging and dramatic enough. Frank credits marriage with saving him from this lonely pursuit: “I needed to turn from literature back to life, where I could get somewhere.” Even the death of a beloved son and a divorce do not make this point ironic.

Since it deals with describing and analyzing real people and events, sportswriting, as defined by Frank, offers a...

(The entire section is 470 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Ford returns to the same themes over and over—the connections are difficult to make, good intentions do not always lead to happiness, and...

(The entire section is 364 words.)