W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe, the inspiration behind the blockbuster film Field of Dreams, can be analyzed through a psychoanalytic lens with some interesting and insightful outcomes. Here are three ways to discuss the novel from a psychoanalytic point of view.
A psychoanalytic reading of Shoeless Joe supports a reading of the novel that suggests that the author's own issues and neuroses are being played out in his own writing. According to a psychoanalytic reading, the dreams, imaginings and memories of the characters are all representative of elements in the author's own psyche. In various interviews, W.P. Kinsella acknowledges that he sees baseball as a metaphor for life, which confirms that a deeply personal reading of any possible autobiographical pieces in the novel would definitely be able to assist a scholar of Shoeless Joe with a psycholanalytic reading of this text. Also interesting is the fact that Kinsella's father had played minor league baseball as a young man, which means that baseball could very much have been a sort of 'family value' in the household in which Kinsella grew up. The relationship between fathers and sons is an important theme in Shoeless Joe and, quite possibly, in the author's own life.
According to Freud's tenets of psychoanalysis, which apply as well to other modalities of psychotherapy, psychological wounds need healing within a safe area, complete with discernable boundaries, rules, and clear expectations. The baseball field is an ideal symbol for this therapeutic safe zone, as the rules and marked physical boundaries of the game enable Ray's memory and imagination to go as far and as deep as it needs to to access the parts of him that are suffering the most. A careful analysis of the symbol of the baseball field will produce some interesting literary and psychological discussion points consistent with the lens of psychoanalysis.
A psychoanalytic reading of Shoeless Joe will also allow for a Freudian focus on the acts of remembering and imagining and the importance of dreams. For example, the novel is rich in dream-like events and characters that ring of spiritual or religious experiences. These moments rely on faith, memory and creative powers that can hold on to beliefs that aren't always manifested in physical ways. Ray's dream of the baseball field takes precedence over practical matters, for example, as the field is where he can live in his imagination and his memory. These decisions are well-suited to a psychoanalytic discussion that highlights the potential significance of dreams to all individuals, not just ones with repressed memories and interpersonal pain.
Many other aspects of the novel are suitable for a psychoanalytic reading, but these three points discussed above make for an ideal place to start. Good luck!