What are quotes that have to do with selflessness in Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella?

Expert Answers info

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write16,848 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The manner in which Kinsella depicts baseball shows some of the strongest examples of selflessness in Shoeless Joe.

The game of baseball is shown to be bigger than the individual.  Baseball is able to link different people from different time periods.  It is a unifying force that causes individuals to merge their own identity into something larger.  When Ray and Joe stand on the baseball field, the selflessness intrinsic to baseball's love is displayed:  “God what an outfield,' he says. 'What a left field.' He looks up at me, and I look down at him. 'This must be heaven,' he says."  Both men are from different time periods and hold different experiences.  Their only common link is baseball. As it binds both of them, baseball represents selflessness.  "Heaven" for both men is a baseball diamond.  Their own individual experiences dwarf in the face of baseball, a universal energy that transcends the individual self.  Salinger communicates this same selflessness when he talks about how the definition of America is inextricably connected to baseball:

I don't have to tell you that the one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has been erased like a blackboard, only to be rebuilt and then erased again. But baseball has marked time while America has rolled by like a procession of steamrollers.

Salinger stresses how so many different forces have exerted an impact on American identity.  Yet, baseball is "the one constant."  Salinger's point is that baseball forces individuals to put aside their own sense of self in the face of something larger and more encompassing.  In this regard, baseball forces people to be more selfless.  This devotion to baseball is where selflessness quotes can be seen in Kinsella's work.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial