“Ex-Basketball Player”

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Zachary Ward Period 3 A.P. English Literature “Ex-Basketball Player” Analysis Assignment Throughout “Ex-Basketball Player” a sense of nostalgia lingers in each and every stanza, but it is only in the fourth stanza that a sense of empathy is felt towards Flick. This empathetic tone, as he “dribbles an inner tube”, brings the reader to the realization that Flick, though extremely talented, “never learned a trade”. Flick only had time to practice basketball during his high school career, and in the end, his religious love of basketball is all he has left. Opportunities he was once possessed are now gone along with the best years of his life. It is for this reason that Flick feels the need to dribble an inner tube, not because he wishes to make people laugh, but because he longs to know that his life has not been wasted. He wants to believe that he will not fade away into the backdrop of just another stereotypical kid who had a lot of potential. As a reader one cannot help but feel empathetic towards Flick’s situation because despite the fact that his town sees him as a legend, to rest of the world he is just another gas station employee. Updike is able to communicate such in the final two lines of the fourth stanza, saying “His hands are and fine and nervous on the lug wrench./ It makes no difference to the lug wrench though”. The first of the two lines suggest that Flicks hands are tempered for something requiring more dexterity, like basketball. In a sense this skill is wasted on something like a lug wrench which does not discern, as stated in line two, between the prowess of its user. However the empathetic tone does not merely gain its value from the readers pity, but through its relatable nature. To be forgotten or to be insignificant like Flick is relatable because such a fate can easily fall onto others. The final stanza uses dramatic and situational
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