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The poem I am analyzing is "Ex-basketball Player" by John Updike.

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Ex-Basketball Player 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. ...read more.


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. ...read more.


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. ...read more.

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