The Sportswriter Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 35 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Sportswriter.
This section contains 817 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Sportswriter Summary & Study Guide Description

The Sportswriter Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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The Sportswriter by Richard Ford is an introspective novel about a sportswriter who has found himself at a crossroads in his life with no clear idea of which fork to take. Frank Bascombe lost his son to Reye's Syndrome. Frank fell into a sort of dream state after this event, leading him to a rash of behaviors that left his marriage in ruins. Now Frank is alone, lost within his own grief. The Sportswriter is a novel of one man's struggle to survive the mundane of daily life after tragedy that will leave its readers inspired.

Frank Bascombe is a divorced father of three. Frank's eldest son died several years ago from Reye's Syndrome. Frank has been in a dreamlike state ever since the death of his son. Frank began having affairs, searching to be a part of something that has nothing to do with his life or his loss. Upon finding letters Frank has hidden from a woman he met during this period, Frank's wife became convinced he no longer wanted to be a part of her life, to confide in her, that she filed for divorce. Now Frank's ex-wife lives across town, working as a pro at a local golf course, going on with her life in a way Frank cannot.

Frank takes his new girlfriend, Vicki, to Detroit. In Detroit, Frank is to interview a football player who is wheelchair-bound after a boating accident. Frank wants to make this trip special for Vicki because he hopes to make her a permanent part of his future. However, things turn bad when Frank is caught going through Vicki's bag in the middle of the night. Vicki says that she forgives him, but some trust has been lost and they are unable to get back the carefree atmosphere they enjoyed before.

Frank goes to do his interview and finds instead of a man full of courage and hope, a man who is bitter and filled with anger. Frank wants to feel pity for this man, but feels that if he does allow himself to feel pity for the football player it will lead to regret for his own losses. Frank leaves the interview somewhat depressed, only to find Vicki also depressed. Vicki has been reading a self-help book that leaves her convinced that she and Frank are not meant to be. Frank tries to cheer her up by taking her to the Botanical Gardens, but the weather has turned cold and snowy, taking the fun out of the trip. Vicki suggests they fly home early and Frank agrees.

When Frank returns to his home, he finds a friend from a divorced men's group he is a member of waiting for him. This man, Walter, confessed to Frank a few days before that he had a sexual encounter with a man. Now Walter appears to be suffering from an identity crisis. Frank attempts to be supportive, but when Walter tries to kiss him, Frank kicks him out of his house. The next day, Frank tries to call Walter several times, but fails to get an answer.

Frank drives to Vicki's father's home for Easter dinner. Frank finds Vicki cold and unhappy. Frank believes she wants to end their relationship so he tries to keep her distracted so she cannot. Vicki tells Frank that she saw his ex-wife making out with Frank's personal physician, watching closely his reaction as she tells him this news. Frank is upset by the news, unhappy with the idea of his wife with another man.

Frank meets Vicki's father and brother. Frank hits it off with Vicki's father, but finds her brother moody and unfriendly. After dinner, Frank gets a phone call from his ex-wife and learns that Walter has committed suicide. Frank tells Vicki he must return home. Vicki walks him out to his car and tells him that she does not think they should see each other anymore. Frank tries to force Vicki into his car so they can continue to discuss the situation. Vicki punches Frank in the mouth to force him to let her go. Frank gets the message and leaves.

Frank goes to the police and receives a copy of the suicide note. Frank then goes to Walter's apartment with his ex-wife to explore the death scene. Frank becomes amorous toward his ex-wife, a situation that makes her angry. Frank then goes to the train station rather than return home. When a woman Frank thinks might be Walter's sister approaches him, he jumps onto a train. Frank goes to his office in the city where he meets a young intern whom he takes to dinner.

In Walter's suicide note, he asks Frank to find an illegitimate daughter in Florida and explain Walter's death to her. Frank goes to Florida and quickly learns that Walter lied. However, Frank finds peace in Florida and elects to stay.

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