Shoeless Joe Essay

1184 words - 5 pages

Three men conjure up a mixture of reality and fiction in their quest for a second chance. Their love of baseball creates a common link that ties them together in the novel Shoeless Joe. The author, William Kinsella, captures each characters' unique need for fulfillment through reincarnation around a setting located in a heaven like cornfield in rural Iowa. The field is transformed into a mysterious baseball park which connects their lives together through a combination of days gone by and present circumstances to right a wrong or the failure to do something right. The main character, Ray Kinsella, relies on dreams and voices from a mysterious baseball announcer to help him fill the void left ...view middle of the document...

The ghost of Shoeless Joe, a disgraced major league player, appears to play ball on his field with of Joe's peers. Ray is not quite sure what his second chance is but is compelled to find out more since he "...had a strained relationship with his father that was never resolved while his father was still alive." (Masterplots, 3) In a series of adventures, he travels across America in the search for answers even to the point of almost loosing his farm and livelihood. His quest becomes more evident as the story progresses, when he discovers the team needs a catcher he makes comments like "I know a catcher..." (Kinsella, 19) that never made the majors and "What about the catcher?" (Kinsella, 24). Unconsciously, Ray is really looking to reunite with his father, a second rate catcher and his estranged brother, Richard. He wishes his father "...could be here with me." (Kinsella, 14) since he and his twin brother had grown up on baseball stories not nursery rhymes, without a mother in their lives. Ray gets his hidden wish when his long lost brother shows up at his home. They watch a game of reincarnated players where their father gets his dream of playing with the big leaguers. They realize their father is the catcher and end up "... talking of love, and family, and life, and beauty, and friendship, and sharing...." (Kinsella, 255). This fulfills Ray's hidden longing that started him on his journey to find his second chance to erase his failure to do something right for his brother and father. Jerry Salinger is looking for a second chance at fulfillment as a writer. He has become disillusioned with a life of notoriety. He says he wants to return to being just ordinary and to be left alone. Though deep down, he wants to break his twenty five years of writing silence but really lacks a compelling story to tell. He is very adept at expressing in words what others can only think and feel. Jerry hears a voice that tells him to "... fulfill the dream." (105). He joins Ray in his quest for some answers. Jerry understands his gift since "It is a sad time when the world won't listen to stories about good men" (Kinsella, 133). He wants to rekindle his faith in good men. Jerry knows that Ray could lead him to an...

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