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Paper Topic:

`Ex-Basketball Player` by John Updike




In the poem Ex-Basketball Player ' the poet John Updike narrates a sad tale of Flick Webb who was Basket ball hero during school days but currently he is working as gas station attendant . The poet employs simple and direct poetic diction and narrates the Flick 's tale dispassionately to invite reader 's judgment on cruel joke life played with the promising basketball player . The poem portrays Flick 's case with photographic realism of Emile Zola without going into stream of

br consciousness of Flick 's mind

The poem contains five stanzas and six lines and it is written in blank verse . The appalling implication of the poem which comes as a revelation in the poem is that how a great budding talent of sports can languish in prison of oblivion because of apathy and mindless neglect of society The poem almost symbolically conveys the message that public memory is short . The same people who cheer you up today tomorrow may fail to even recognize your face . The nostalgic flashback and the poetic effect is achieved by the poet through the effective treatment of the theme of unsung hero who leads a nondescript life a gas station attendant not by choice but by a sheer stroke of fate . The poem raises a very important poetic question that how often we place people on high pedestal and then suddenly and without any reason throw them away into ditch to rot and rust

The first stanza effectively synchronizes with Flick Webb 's lackluster life (after display of initial spark of glamour during school days with the topography of Flick 's hometown . The topography of Flick Webb 's hometown has been made to symbolically correspond to Flick Webb 's life sequence . The street runs for a short while and is cut off abruptly significantly represents Flick Webb 's life which has been cut off prior to reaching full scale glory of Sports career

The second and third stanza describes how Flick Webb distinguished football player and how he is till date a record holder 'The ball loved Flick ' through this personification the poet emphatically states that Flick is cut out for the game . Further he extols his basket ball skill by using a simile

His hands were like wild birds

In the final stanza the poet Updike dwells on Flick Webb 's monotonous life and how he whiles away it playing pin ball . The game of pinball symbolizes hopelessness and a life without ambition . It also symbolizes that Flick has not been able to advance a step further after he left school . The pattern of pinball game also refers to Flick 's nostalgic flashbacks to school day glory


1 `The ball loved Flick- `PERSONIFICATION

2 `His hands were like wild birds-`SIMILE

3 bends with the trolley track-ALLITERATION

4 `Their rubber elbows hanging loose and low -`ALLITERATION AND ASSONANCE

5 `He never learned a trade ,he...

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