What importance reference to dreams is made early in Shoeless Joe?
Dreams and visions are of course a very important theme of this novel: dreams, and the sacrifices that are necessary to make them a reality. As the novel begins, the reader is presented with the narrator's initial dream of the voice he hears that sets everything in motion. The voice says to him, "If you build it, he will come." As the narrator makes clear, this was not just a plan that he pursued as a kind of hobby; rather, it was was plan that consumed him and dominated his waking and thinking hours, and involved considerable risk and commitment on his part and on the part of his family. Note the comment he makes about this in the first chapter, after reflecting on how hard he and his wife have worked to own the farm:
Now I stand ready to cut into the cornfield, to chisel away a piece of our livelihood to use as dream currency...
This quote presents the reality of what the narrator is proposing: using land that could be utilised productively and profitably to grow crops to plan and build a baseball court in Iowa. The sheer verve and scope of the ambition is staggering, but it also highlights the theme of dreams and how they are only ushered into being through risk, through sacrifice, and through massive commitment. Dreamers who are half-hearted remain dreamers, this novel suggests, whereas those who are 110% behind their dream and willing to make considerable sacrifices and take risks are the ones who see their dreams turn into reality.