Shoeless Joe Questions and Answers
by W. P. Kinsella

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What are four higher-order questions about selflessness in Shoeless Joe?

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One question would be what is selflessness?  Based on what is seen in Kinsella's work, how is selflessness defined?  How do specific characters' actions reflect it?  Explorations here could focus on the building of the diamond and Ray's embrace of his mission behind it.  

Another question might examine the role baseball plays in defining the characterizations in the novel. It could be framed as a position question: "Do you think people in Shoeless Joe are defined by their selfless love of baseball?"  This question requires an explanation of the relationship between selflessness, love of baseball, and specific characters in the narrative.

Another question could relate to the effects of selflessness in the novel.  It could be a question such as "Based on its depiction in Shoeless Joe, is selflessness entirely positive?"  This type of question will require selflessness to be shown in a complex manner.  For example, when Ray plows over his field, it puts a financial hardship on the family.  While selflessness is noble, those who are close to people who are selfless might experience challenging realities.  As with the previous questions, this one is nuanced and requires a higher-order approach to see something usually seen as only good as perhaps containing more complexity. 

A final question relating to selflessness relate to the athletic dimension: "Examining athletes in Shoeless Joe, what role does selflessness play in the pursuit of their success?  How does this compare to modern athletes?"  The first part of the question drives at the relationship that athletes like Shoeless Joe have towards selflessness.  In a time before excessive materialism and wide-ranging branding, what role did selflessness play in athletic pursuits?  An answer could get into the "love of the game" that is intrinsic to athletic selflessness.  Finally, exploring selflessness in terms of similarities and differences to modern athletes could be very interesting.  For example, how does the selflessness of Shoeless Joe Jackson compare to modern ballplayers like Barry Bonds, Mike Trout, or Alex Rodriguez?  It might be insightful to explore this dynamic and delve into a comparison of athletes then and now. 

The answers to these questions are going to be open-ended, driven by textual analysis and support.

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