How is Shoeless Joe different from the highly successful Field of Dreams?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Kinsella's novel has some significant differences than the film.  The most obvious is that J.D. Salinger is not present.  Terrence Mann is the author who has become disenchanted with modern life.  It works to an extent, primarily because James Earl Jones is very skilled in bringing life into an author that never existed.  Yet, it rings a bit off in that the audience, even one who has never read Kinsella's work, is expecting Salinger to be present.  At the same time, the presence of "the oldest living Cub," Eddie Scissons, is not in the film.  His character is completely removed from the film.  Richard Kinsella, Ray's twin, is also absent in the film.  This also means that Gypsy, Richard's girlfriend, is also missing.  In terms of thematic content, I don't think that the film is one that emphasizes religion and the spiritual dimension that the book does.  The film depicts the judgmental and self- righteous nature of Annie's parents as more representative of social conformity that Ray's building of the baseball field and his exploits is poised against.  However, I do think that the film and book both do a good job of exploring the idea that the link between father and son is one that can exist through baseball.

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