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In this paper I will be comparing the following poems and short stories, A Rose For Emily by William Faulkner, A Clean Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway, And “Ex-Basketball Player” by John Updike. These three poems have similar main character problems in my opinion. I have many times gone back while reading several other short stories in class and thought about how they too also relate in many ways to these three pieces. I thoroughly enjoyed reading these and picking out the hidden message within them.
The authors also do an outstanding job by making us (the reader) think about what is being said, and then take it to another level. I also like how all three of the main characters issues are relatable.
In the short story A Rose for Emily William Faulkner has an amazing narrative point of view. A short character analysis of Miss Emily Grierson from the outside looking in is basically an old woman who died alone, but in reality it is much more.
Miss Emily grew up with a strict father who kept her isolated. When her father died she lost all hope, she clung to his body, basically until his dead body was ripped away from her. She then met a man named Homer Barron and had an affair. Homer then tells her that he was leaving, so she poisoned him, and then kept his dead body in her bedroom until she died. Emily was very self dependant on a man for happiness. She clung to her father, for that is all she knew.
She clung to Homer Barron because he was someone to keep her warm at night.
Emily was a quiet woman who was never self dependant and always needed someone. Until about 10 years before she passed. People in the town started to wonder where Homer went, if he packed up and left, or Emily scared him off. But in reality he was just dead in Miss Emily’s bed. From her thirties to the age of sixty-four she laid beside his dead body in her bed. Some would say that is quite odd, or maybe even psychotic, but that is all she knew. In no way or reason was she right for poisoning a man for no reason, but she was imprinted by her father, and depended on it. Miss Emily at the age of sixty four decided to take control of her life, she locked the upstairs up and never returned, left homer upstairs, and became independent for the first time of her life. She died in a downstairs bedroom, alone, and independent, but free.
Unlike Miss Emily not everyone can be so lucky as to moving on out of their past, and becoming independent. In the poem “Ex Basketball Player” by John Updike, the main character “Flick” never moves on, and continues to live in the past. This poem tells the story of a basketball player who peaks in high school. Flick was the best on the team, he was fast, and could move the ball like no ones business. But be sold himself short and never went anywhere after that. He was too focused on the past.
In the poem the author makes many references to how Flick never moves on. In the first stanza when the author says “you’ll find Flick Webb, who helps Berth out” (“Ex Basketball Player”), He uses berth that is close to “birth” as new beginnings meaning that he starting a new career, but really he wasted his life away on basketball and never was able to grow up and have his own job. “Flick stands tall among the idiot pumps” (“Ex-Basketball Player”) this was meant to be a reference to the basketball game, but foreshadows his career, he just stands near the pumps at the gas station, and pumps peoples gas. Another point that I have noticed would be that the author makes lots of references to Flicks past, but puts hints in about his future.
In the last stanza the author says “Beyond her face towards the bright applauding tiers of Necco Wafers, Nibs, and Juju Beads” (“Ex Basketball Player). The believe the author threw this in at the end for very specific reasons. The author says this because right as you think he is thinking about his future he gets taken away by his past again. The author also uses the word tiers, which can be taken two ways, tiers as in stands, or tears as in crying, Updike uses that specific word to describe how he is sad about losing the past, and lost his “prime”. The author then after saying tiers mentions some old candy, and snacks that he liked as a kid “juju beads, nibs necco wafers” those are a sign that he is still living in the past because he is still eating them, and not watching what he should eat like an adult should. Those are just a few references that John Updike uses in the poem “The Ex-Basketball Player”.
Like Flick the Old Waiter in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place could not move on from his past. In this short story the author creates three main characters, The old waiter, the young waiter, an the old man. In this story the old waiter sympathizes with with old man because he too is lonely. Throughout the story the young waiter continues to bash the waiter, knowing all of his issues (the old man’s wife died, and is living with his niece, and is also deaf, and tried to commit suicide). The Old waiter empathises with the Old man because he too is lonely at night and takes night shifts at the bar to avoid going home at night.
The old waiter blames his feeling of loneliness, and why he can not fall asleep on “insomnia” which is caused by anxiousness and angst. He stays out late drinking, and working at night to avoid the feeling before he goes to be, it is almost like he feels like if he stays one more hour, or has one more drink that is one less thing he has to worry about. The old waiter while explaining to the young waiter to take it easy on the old man is hinting around having empathy for the old man. The old man is lonely and so is the old waiter, the young waiter sounds very selfish when he says “I have a wife waiting for me in bed” (A Clean, Well-Lighted Place) and the old waiter replies “He had a wife once too” (A Clean, Well-Lighted Place) The old waiter is trying to put the old man’s life into perspective for the young waiter. The old waiter takes up for the old man because he feels his pain.
In this extra credit assignment I was asked to compare three pieces that we discussed/read in class. I chose the three I used because they all motivate me to not stay stuck on the past, and to always move forward. Miss Emily, Flick, the old waiter, and the old man all were stuck in reality, and the only person that moved on was Miss Emily. In the story A Clean, Well-Lighted Place the main two characters were both struggling with loneliness and never come face to face with reality, and never overcome it, In the poem “Ex-Basketball Player” the main character Flick never moves on from his past. And Miss Emily in A Rose for Emily finally moves on but not until ten years before her death. That gives me hope, of course because she was the only woman and succeeded and left her past behind and died free, but also these pieces are similar in that no matter what trials and tribulations you face you can overcome them.
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