The novel Shoeless Joe is really a story about the power of faith and the need to take a leap of faith in life. The writer’s theme is demonstrated in several ways.
- The narrator, Ray Kinsella, hears voices that tell him to build a baseball field. Most people would probably check themselves into a mental institution, but Ray goes and does it—he does something that seems completely crazy, and it pays off.
- Another character, J. D. Salinger, joins Ray on his journey, giving up his life as a cynical hermit. He is also acting on faith. His experiences push him toward resuming his writing career.
- Shoeless Joe was a baseball player who was banned from the game for allegedly throwing games for money. His presence on Ray’s magical field signifies that, through faith, people can overcome what seems to be devastating disappointment.
- Annie, Ray’s wife, takes a huge leap of faith by trusting in Ray’s instincts, even though their farm is becoming a hopeless failure.
The novel is thoroughly unrealistic, but the story is told in such an openly disarming way that it charms the heck out of the reader. It’s as though W. P. Kinsella was saying to us, “I know life is lousy sometimes, just imagine if this kind of thing could really happen.” Perhaps the reader will be inspired to have faith in something more realistic as a result of experiencing this story.