Pearl Avenue By John Updike Summary

Words: 395
Pages: 2

John Updike begins his poem Ex-Basketball Player with a long winding description of “Pearl Avenue”, which is the setting of his poem (Updike 1). The object of Updike’s poem is a former basketball player named Flick Webb. Flick was a talented high school basketball star who now pumps gas, as described by Updike. Updike’s introduction is actually a clever metaphor for Flick’s life. The comparison is never directly stated, but is presented clearly by Updike. The “Pearl Avenue” represents Flick’s brights prosperous life as a star athlete (Updike 1). The street which “runs past the high-school lot / Bends with the trolley tracks, and stopes cut off / Before it has a chance to go two blocks” follows a similar path to Flick’s life (Updike 1-3). Flick starts out shining and brilliant at the high school, but his life is stopped short not too long …show more content…
As an ex-basketball player whose life led to him pumping gas, Flick personifies this idea. Even though his high school fame is remembered by others, the fame does nothing to help Flick later in life. Updike describes Pearl Avenue as “cut off” just like Flick’s life of fame to emphasize that fame is fleeting (Updike 2). Most of the community remembers Flick’s legendary basketball games, but Flick obsess over it. Flick desperately clings to the fame his basketball skill brought him in high school, exemplified by the transformation of candy into adoring fans in Flick’s mind. Updike also uses Flick to warn society of the dangers of fame. Fame can force those who obsess over it to live in the past, like Flick. Living in the past is dangerous because it does not allow society to look towards the future and all the pearled glory it holds. Updike’s clever introduction of a clever metaphor reveals explores the long lasting effects of