What is J.D Salinger's act of redemption in Shoeless Joe?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Frustrated life goals is thematic of W. P. Kinsella's novel. His main character, a farmer in Iowa named Ray Kinsella hears voices that tell him to build a baseball field in one of his corn fields. An avid fan of baseball himself and somewhat of a dreamer, Kinsella listens to these voices as he regrets his relationship with his now deceased father and wishes he could somehow repair this relationship.

When he hears of the reclusive life that his favorite author J.D. Salinger now lives and hears voices telling him, "Ease his pain," Ray believes he is called upon to find the author because he has read a moving baseball story written by Salinger. He hopes to move Salinger to write again. After he finds Salinger and convinces him to accompany him back to Iowa, Salinger speaks to Ray of the power of imagination, a power that is ignited in himself, as well, as Ray reawakens Salinger's love of baseball as he tells Ray, “Something has dialed us to the same frequency.”

Salinger hears voices,too. He is told, "Fulfill the dream." The power of his imagination inspires Salinger to work with Ray and bring reality to mirror their dreams. In this mutual endeavor, Salinger is renewed (redeemed) as an author, and Ray is reunited with his father and his conflicts resolved with the power of the love of baseball that they all share.

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