What literary devices are found in this quote from the book Shoeless Joe, and what do they mean? How does this passage relate to the theme of the story? How can you identify if there is symbolism in this passage? How can you identify any special diction used that relates to the story?

Building a baseball field is more work than you might imagine. I laid out a whole field, but it was there in spirit only. It was really only left field that concerned me. Home plate was made from pieces of cracked two-by-four embedded in the earth. The pitcher’s rubber rocked like a cradle when I stood on it. The bases were stray blocks of wood, unanchored. There was no backstop or grandstand, only one shaky bleacher beyond the left-field wall. There was a left-field wall, but only about fifty feet of it, twelve feet high, stained dark green and braced from the rear. And the left-field grass. My intuition told me that it was the grass that was important. It took me three seasons to hone that grass to its proper texture, to its proper color. I made trips to Minneapolis and one or two other cities where the stadiums still have natural-grass infields and outfields. I would arrive hours before a game and watch the groundskeepers groom the field like a prize animal, then stay after the game when in the cool of the night the same groundsmen appeared with hoses, hoes, and rakes, and patched the grasses like medics attending to wounded soldiers.

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There are multiple parts to your assignment so this answer addresses some key issues. Please keep in mind that a homework question on our site is intended to be one question.

The larger issue of the relationship of the passage to the larger work is connected to the literary devices,...

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There are multiple parts to your assignment so this answer addresses some key issues. Please keep in mind that a homework question on our site is intended to be one question.

The larger issue of the relationship of the passage to the larger work is connected to the literary devices, including similes and metaphors. The idea of building the field is used throughout Shoeless Joe to stand for Ray's determination in pursuing a noble cause, similar to a medieval quest. In that regard, building the field is a central conceit for living a person's life. The literary device of the "conceit" is also called an "extended metaphor" or "sustained metaphor."

This passage clearly shows the relationship between dreaming and doing. The fine-grained detail helps the reader imagine the field and believe the narrator when he says that building a field is more work than the reader would think.

The use of similes in the passage is pronounced. Similes are one kind of literary device, a comparison with "like" or "as."

The pitcher's rubber rocked like a cradle . . . .

. . . the groundskeepers groom the field like a prize animal . . . .

. . . the same groundsmen . . . patched the grasses like medics attending to wounded soldiers.

All three similes relate to caring or living-beings in some way. The cradle, although here referencing motion, is a baby's bed, an animal that is prized would be well cared for, and the soldiers would need tender attention to recover from their wounds. They support the idea of the life in the field.

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