Ex – Basketball Player Essay
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In the poem, “Ex – Basketball Player” by john Updike, (which is a narrative poem) illustrates the nature of life on how life is potentially is seen has a mirror to other people’s life, especially people who play sports. Life is the physical and mental experience of an individual. An in the poem the main character Flick, supply the poem with a good example of how life is potentially a mirror for other people. This poem is formally organized, even though it locks some qualities, it still haves the qualifications of a good poem. The “Ex Basket Player” is an interested poem because it has a good theme, tone and lots of figurative languages.
The theme of this poem is about a high school basketball star that has become less successful in the…show more content…
In fact, Flick was obsessed with is past because he choose to work at Berth which was near to his school (7). By doing so his life became a disappointment to him in the future. Even though he was successful at one point because he set “records” (16), his past is only a constant remainder to him because “he sells gas, checks oil, and changes flats (20).” He regrets what he has become because he knew that if only he had fallowed his past, he would have been successful now.
Secondly, in the poem, there were lots of figurative languages that help to bring out the reality of Flick’s life. In fact, in the first stanza, Updike uses imagery to try to bring out the schools location, in which Flick success was endure in the past. Updike uses imagery to portray a fainted, smudged world of the present and compare it with the radiant, immaculate and brilliance of Flick’s past. Imagery is initially used in the first two lines of the poem, “where Pearl Avenue bends with the trolley tracks and stops, cut off (1-2).” Those two lines show how Flick’s life has been cut short, just like the road that leads to Berth’s Garage where he works. The trolley tracks that pass by the high school Flick went to, but just like him, it doesn’t go very far beyond. The words “cut off (2),” are very important in the understanding of Flick’s circumstances. His days of fame came to an immediate
The poem I am analyzing is “Ex-basketball Player” by John Updike. Updike was born in 1932 in Pennsylvania, and is most renowned for his works as a novelist.
This poem is a subtle tragedy, as it describes a common occurrence in our world of dreams being unfulfilled. The poem is a narrative, told from the perspective of one of the residents of the town in which Flick, the protagonist, used to play basketball.
The theme of this poem is longing. “Ex-Basketball Player” suggests that whether happy or not, both Flick and the town he lives in wants, and needs, to remember Flick’s basketball glory days. They need them so much, in fact, that the man and town become dependant on each other for remembrance of the past. It is clear that both Flick and the town he once played in vividly remember, and often revisit, his basketball playing days.
The tone of this poem is sad and reminiscent. The narrator speaks in a somewhat regretful tenor; his description of Flick gives the reader the impression that Flick has turned into a somewhat pathetic gas-pumper, who’s been left with nothing but past aspirations of playing basketball.
It can be said that Updike’s intent is to appeal to the youth of society, urging them to avoid the path of failure by not relying on one dream for the future, as the protagonist of the poem does. Although Updike does not take an obvious stance on whether Flick’s situation is good or bad, he does instead paint a dark, dreary picture of the present, with lines such as “Flick stands tall among the idiot pumps– Five on a side, the old bubble-head style” in contrast to a bright picture of the past, with lines such as “The ball loved Flick. I saw him rack up thirty-eight or forty in one home game”.
Updike uses several poetic devices, including imagery, personification, symbolism, and simile, to enhance his poem. The strong imagery that Updike uses is successful in allowing the reader to picture several aspects of the poem, including the setting and mood. The poem begins with a clear, almost directional description of the location of Berth’s gas station:
“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
At Colonel McComsky Plaza. Berth’s Garage
Is on the corner facing west”
This vivid and specific description enables the reader to travel, in mind, to the setting of the poem. The imagery that Updike uses also successfully allows the reader to experience the mood of the poem, in lines such as:
“Off work, he hangs around Mae’s luncheonette.
Grease-gray and kind of coiled, he plays pinball
Smokes those thin cigars, nurses lemon phosphates.”
A somewhat drab description of Flick’s current life, contrasted with a happier description of his past life, make the reader empathize with Flick in his longing for the past.
Updike also uses symbolism in the first stanza of his poem. When Updike says Pearl Avenue “stops, cut-off, before it has a chance to go two blocks”, this language is representative of Flick’s basketball career, which was abruptly ended; his stardom was exchanged for mediocrity, and without warning, Flick’s high school basketball days were finished. Flick was unable to redeem himself in the world through other paths, because as the poem says, he “never learned a trade”.
Personification is another literary device used by Updike in the poem. The second stanza is a personified portrayal of the pumps that Flick works with. When Updike uses descriptive phrases such as “idiot pumps”, with “rubber elbows hanging loose and low”, he is describing the gas pumps as if they are human. Further, he continues, saying “one is squat, without a head at all–more of a football type.” This description is not only personified, but it relates to Flick personally by portraying the pump as a type of athlete. Personification is also used when the narrator asserts that “the ball loved Flick”. The ball is not able to feel, but Updike uses personification to relay to the reader the connection that Flick seemed to have with basketball. Updike also personifies the Necco wafers, Nibs, and Juju beads, explaining that these candies are the “bright applauding tiers” that Flick now imagines are his fans.
Updike uses a single simile in the poem. When the narrator states “His hands were like wild birds”, he is comparing the speed, the agility and the freeness of Flicks hands while playing basketball to the freeness of wild birds.
The style that Updike chooses for his poem is free verse. This style is a rational choice because it correlates with the modern theme and narrative tone of the poem. If Updike attempted to give the poem a more structured configuration, it would quite possibly lose its powerful storytelling aspect. The simple and easily understandable diction used in this poem is also sensible, because the poet is seemingly appealing to a youthful audience.
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