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Shoeless Joe Essay, Research Paper
Ray Kinsella helped other people fulfill their dreams by traveling for miles to find them, and bring them back to his field of dreams. In the book Shoeless Joe, W.P. Kinsella wrote about how some people were missing something in their lives, but they found what they had been looking for when they arrived at Ray’s field. Ray built a baseball field to fulfill his unfulfilled dreams of the past. Ray’s father died when he was a teenager, so Ray did not get to spend much time with him. Ray had always longed to see his father again and this dream came true when he built the field. Others had unquenchable dreams like Ray. Archibald Graham never got to bat in the majors, and that was what was missing in his life. When Archie Graham came to Ray’s field, he found the thread that tied the meaning of his life together. Eddie Scissons also had an unrealized dream, all his life he had lied about himself being the oldest living Chicago Cub, but he was only looking for the recognition that he had always dreamt of having. When he came to Ray’s field, he no longer had to lie about himself being the oldest living Chicago Cub, for that’s exactly what he became. Ray’s field of dreams helped fulfill the dreams of other men besides himself, and it made all the men very happy to finally find what they have been looking for all their lives.
Ray Kinsella was called upon by forces left unknown to the readers and himself to go on both a physical journey as well as a journey of the heart. After hearing voices proclaiming, “If you build it, they will come,” Ray risked the economic and emotional stability of the family he loved dearly to build a baseball field. At first, Ray Kinsella was highly skeptical, but eventually he realized the significance of his obscure calling. Upon the completion of the baseball field, “Shoeless Joe Jackson”, the baseball player who had been his father’s hero before he passed away, suddenly appeared in the field to talk with Ray and to play baseball. As the book progressed, Ray continued to receive messages. After each new message, Ray was called upon to further his journey. This journey involved traveling to various cities around the United States, as well as facing issues within himself that he has successfully hidden from for years. He built the field to fulfill his unfulfilled dreams of the past. The one thing that Ray was missing in his life was that he never went to a live baseball game with his father. He also did not get to spend much time with him. Ray explained how he was never able to go to a live baseball game when he said, “We were always going to go to a major-league baseball game, he and I. But the time was never right, the money always needed for something else” (13). Ray would do anything to see his father again so he built his field. When Ray heard the announcer say, “Catching and batting eighth is Johnny Kinsella,” it was the happiest moment of his life. He described his happiness when he said, “My breath escapes like air hissing from a tire. I stare down to where he crouches, warming up the pitcher. My class B catcher who played in the minors in Florida and California. My father. My dream has been fulfilled, my request granted” (168). The reason for his journey, and the path to follow were never clearly manifested to Ray Kinsella. Blind faith and perhaps a bit mythically guided of insanity were all that drove him to continue on his journey. Throughout his journey, Ray never once knew where the next piece to the puzzle was located. Only at the end of his journey was it at last made clear to him the purpose for his quest. Years ago, when Ray was an adolescent, he had a falling out with his father that he never resolved. After the death of his father, John Kinsella, Ray was overcome with a sense of guilt and emptiness due to the fact that the horrible conflict with his father would never be resolved. Completing his journey allowed him to make amends with his deceased father and alleviate himself of the eternal burden of never forgiving his father or being forgiven himself for the painful words they had exchanged. Ray’s greatest dream was fulfilled, by sseing his father again, and he finally found what he had been missing all his life. It was almost as if he brought his father back to life. Ray was a happy man when he got to walk and talk with his father. “As the three of us walk across the vast emerald lake that is the outfield, I think of all the things I’ll want to talk to the catcher about . . . and we’ll hardly realize that we’re talking of love, and family, and life, and beauty, and friendship, and sharing” (215). When he was walking with his father, he enjoyed every minute of it and he was happy that his dream finally came true.
There was also a void in Archie Graham’s life, until he came to Ray’s field. He never got the chance to bat in the majors. Archie only played one inning in the outfield, and that was his only major league experience. “He returns and hands to me, tenderly as a nurse passing a new child to its mother, the box score of Moonlight Graham’s only major-league game” (95). When Ray saw Archie’s game statistics, it showed that he only got to play outfield for an inning and never got to bat. Archie’s dream was fulfilled when he played and batted on Ray’s field of dreams. When Archie stepped into Ray’s car on the way back to Iowa, he was on his way to the field where his dream would come true. “The pitcher fires and Moonlight takes a curve ball for a strike. As he throws again, Moonlight snaps the bat forward and the ball sails in a high arc to right center. The center fielder backs up a couple of steps, lops a few strides to his left, and makes the catch” (170). The narrator described Moonlight’s first at bat in the majors, his dream come true. Archie was looking for somewhere to play baseball and he came to the right place. By playing on the field, it made him realize something. As he stepped out of the field and turned into a doctor, it made him realize that he was always meant to be a doctor and not a baseball player. “His baseball uniform fades away and is replaced by a black overcoat . . . The man who without a backward glance walks around the corner of the fence . . . is not Moonlight Graham . . . but the Doc Graham I spoke with on that moonlit night in Chisholm, Minnesota . . .” (208). By coming to Ray’s field, he realized that he was meant to be a doctor and not a professional baseball player.
Eddie Scissons lied about himself being the oldest living Chicago Cub, but he was only looking for the recognition that he dreamed of having. His dream also came true on Rays field. “ He never played in the major leagues. Not only that, but he hardly played in the minors Cone year, part-time, for a Class D team in Montana, over sixty years ago. And he’s been passing himself off around here for forty years as a Chicago cub, the oldest living one” (182). Mark told everyone that Eddie was a total fraud for forty years. Ray understood that Eddie only wanted more attention, which was why he lied about himself being the oldest living Chicago Cub. Eddie’s dream was fulfilled when he saw himself play for the Chicago Cubs on Ray’s field. Eddie came out to play when the announcer said, “Now pitching for the Chicago Cubs, Kid Scissons” (189). Eddie Scissons finally became the oldest living Chicago Cub, and he was no longer a fraud. He could finally get the recognition he always wanted, without lying. Eddie died a happy, proud man. He finally saw himself play for the Chicago Cubs. Eddie could now wear his uniform and say he played for the Cubs, without getting laughed at. “He opened the door and found Eddie dead. Eddie must have had a premonition, for he had changed into his Chicago Cubs uniform. His cap, glove, and brand-new spikes were laid out beside his bed” (196). Eddie wanted to die wearing his Chicago Cub uniform to show how proud he was to play in the majors. Eddie was no longer a fraud and his statistics would now be found in the baseball encyclopedia.
Ray’s field helped fulfill his own dream as well as the dreams of other men, and these were all dreams that the men would never forget. Ray built the field to see his father again, and this dream did come true. He was thrilled when he saw his father warming up on the field. He was breathless when he got the chance to walk and talk with his father again. Moonlight Graham finally got to bat in the majors just like he always dreamed. Graham hit the ball to right center, and this was his first hit in the majors. Eddie Scissons finally got to play for the Chicago Cubs. When he saw himself trot on to the field he jumped for joy. When the announcer announced his name, Eddie was proud that he could now prove that he was the oldest living Chicago Cub. Ray built the field mainly for his own dreams, but it turned out that he also fulfilled to dreams of other men, and all these fulfilled dreams made them very happy.
Kinsella, W.P. Shoeless Joe. New York Balantine Books, 1982.
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