As your question stated, W. P. Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe deals with the theme of fathers and sons. Ray Kinsella, the narrator and main character, feels connected to his father through baseball. Ray’s father loves baseball, and Ray uses his father’s love of the game to connect with him....
Looking beyond the magicalrealism in W.P. Kinsella’s novel, the reader is told the story of a son finding a way to tell his father that he loves him.
Ray’s relationship with his father is built on a foundation of baseball. W.P. Kinsella shows the development of this father-son-baseball relationship in an anecdote that Ray shares:
My father, I've been told, talked baseball statistics to my mother's belly while waiting for me to be born.
Here, Ray’s father begins the process of sharing something he loves deeply with his son. Though Ray only knows that his father would whisper player stats to him in his “mother’s belly” as a story, whether true or not, it shows Ray that his father loved him. In addition to this story, Ray reveals another example of his childhood indoctrination into baseball:
Instead of nursery rhymes, I was raised on the story of the Black Sox Scandal, and instead of Tom Thumb or Rumpelstiltskin, I grew up hearing of the eight disgraced ballplayers: Weaver, Cicotte, Risberg, Felsch, Gandil, Williams, McMullin, and, always, Shoeless Joe Jackson.
W.P. Kinsella reveals that it not just a father sharing something with his son, but a father’s way of showing love to his son. This means of showing love went both ways; Ray knew how to connect with his father through baseball. Ray would ask about baseball in order to bridge gaps between them.
And how did he get a name like Shoeless Joe?" I would ask my father, knowing the story full well but wanting to hear it again.
Ray knew the stories but still wanted to hear his father tell them.
It is sometimes difficult for fathers to tell their sons that they love them, just as it is sometimes difficult for sons to tell their fathers. W. P. Kinsella has written a novel that shows a father and son saying that they love each other without having to say it at all.