A Comparison of the Road Not Taken by Robert Frost and the Ex-Basketball Player by John Updike

Concerning literature, journalist Rex Huppke states, “By looking beyond just business books, you might foster unexpected connections or create a deeper understanding among different people.” Literature is important to understand people and the decisions that they make, whether it is the process of making a decision in the case of Robert Frost in “The Road Not Taken”, or the aftermath of a decision in the case of the “Ex-Basketball Player” in John Updike’s story. A seemingly simple decision may in fact set up the course of the rest of one’s life.

By examining the decisions of John Updike’s character, Flick, and the speaker in Robert Frost’s poem, we can shed some light on the impact decisions have on one’s life, no matter how trivial they may seem at first. Both “The Road Less Taken” and “The Ex-Basketball Player” revolve around the topic of making decisions. Robert Frost makes a decision for his life in “The Road Less Taken,” and it is an important decision that sets the course of his life.

In “The Ex-Basketball Player,” Updike’s character has already made an important decision for his life, and it is up to the reader to determine if that decision was beneficial for the basketball player or not. Both characters were content with their decisions. Frost is content with his decision when he sighed (16). The sigh was a sigh of satisfaction and content. He acknowledges that this decision was important by saying that he will be telling this story “ages and ages hence.

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” Whatever this decision was, it obviously was monumental.

When the “two roads diverged in a yellow wood” in the first line, it signified a decision that has two alternatives. The color of the woods, yellow, may symbolize a season change, or a change in the speaker’s life. Yellow may also be symbolic of anxiety and trepidation, as this decision would be the one that “makes all the difference” in the speaker’s life. Frost did not make the common choice, or a choice other people may have expected him to make. While Robert Frost took the path less traveled, Flick abandoned his days of playing basketball. While some might say he “took the easy way out,” it can also be said that Flick made a decision for his life that was in his best interest. He made the decision for himself, and went against the expectations of others. Like Frost, he also took “the path less traveled.” He may not have wanted to be a star basketball player, but would rather work with his hands doing manual labor. He seemed to make a game out of this otherwise monotonous form of labor as well.

In line 21, Flick dribbled an inner tube. This may suggest that he is thinking back to his days of playing basketball, despite his chosen career path. This does not show regret, it just simply shows nostalgia. This nostalgic feeling is supported by Flick “hanging around” at Mae’s Luncheonette in the last stanza, where Flick plays pinball, eats candy from the time period, and drinking lemon cokes. This poem was written well after these actions would have been considered a thing of the past, so the nostalgic feeling is evoked in the reader as well. Both of these stories revolve around making unpopular decisions. Robert Frost did not follow the crowd, and instead made an unpopular decision. Those who observed Flick may feel he made a poor decision by abandoning a career in basketball, but he chose the unpopular decision by pursuing a different career.

Flick may miss his days of basketball, but overall, he is satisfied with his decision to leave those days in the past. Rex Huppke suggested that reading literature might “help foster unexpected connections” to create a “deeper understanding among different people.” Perhaps by making a connection between these two strikingly different poems, we can understand something not only about how one makes a decision, but to understand the impact a decision has one one’s future. A seemingly small, unpopular action may be the decision that “makes all the difference.” Works Cited: Huppke, Rex. “Are Book Clubs the Wave of the Future at Work?” Chicago Tribune 24 Oct. 2014, Business sec. Print

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A Comparison of the Road Not Taken by Robert Frost and the Ex-Basketball Player by John Updike. (2022, Mar 07). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/a-comparison-of-the-road-not-taken-by-robert-frost-and-the-ex-basketball-player-by-john-updike/

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