Ambition: it is a person’s drive to achieve something. The entirety of the discussion in this essay may be zeroed in to just one word, Ambition. It is the lack of ambition that led Flick to settle to just being a gasman. It must be the reason why he did not get a scholarship for a college education. With his excellent performance as a basketball star in high school, he could have acquired a college or university scholarship easily. But he did not. That part of his life is skipped in the poem, but ending as a gasman and the line, “he never learned a trade” (line 19) implies that he did not get any education after high school.
It is possible also that he did not even finish his high school education. This poses the questions was Flick’s fate caused of lack of ambition or was it a choice? Every person needs to have a drive, a motivation to be somebody. High school is the stage when adolescents determine what they want to become. It is then that students are exposed to different career orientations so that they may match their potentials to the career that they choose. Education is important especially for young people who have the opportunities to study. Even the government is concerned about the growing number of youngsters who would rather not go to school.
There is such a thing as “No Child Left Behind Act” (Kafer 2004), a policy of the government to make sure that all children will have a chance to go to school. There could have been no reason for Flick not to finish his studies. Sometime in Flick’s life, he must have lost his ambition. Maybe because he became frustrated with school; he must have failed in his subjects because of too much concentration in basketball or he must have fallen in love and became broken-hearted. It is possible too that he was simply lazy to further his studies.
Updike must know the reason but chooses not to include in his poem. Many good basketball players complete their college education and become company executives or successful businessmen. Others turn professional like Kobe Bryant who joined the NBA at the age of 17 while still in high school and earned $3. 5 million in his first 3-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe broke the association’s norm of promoting college education to their players. (Kobe Bryant Bio 2007) Though Kobe did not get a college education, he was smart enough to turn pro and earn millions. Flick is not like Kobe.
Flick did not have an ambition. He just became a gasman because he had no other option. His basketball career was over and he did not learn any skill. He had to make a living because he was not getting any younger. Flick’s community at Pearl Avenue empathizes with him in his misfortune. For them, it is good enough that they have memories of the once basketball star in their community high school; that basketball star who still holds the 390 points-in-a-season record. It is also good enough for them that their basketball idol sometimes shows them some exhibition play as a gag.
They may share enjoyments remembering those times when their friend was in the limelight. They may also share some faults for letting this happen to their friend. Updike tried not to show any judgment of the situation. Agreeably, it is not fair to judge Flick’s career as a gasman because it is a decent and respectable job. But Flick as a young man has already experienced being popular and being a gasman is very much in contrast to that. It is normally expected that successful men will aim for bigger successes. Flick did not; he made a 360 degree turn. Flick’s future depended solely on himself; on what he wanted it to be.
Courtney from Study Moose
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