The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The central character in Shoeless Joe is Ray Kinsella, the Iowa farmer who builds a baseball field on his land. Like Don Quixote, Ray envisions an impossible dream and then works to make it into reality for himself and those who believe in him. He responds to a voice that no one else has heard. He embarks on a quest to bring back to life the players who had been banished from baseball sixty years earlier.

Annie Kinsella, Ray’s wife, supports her husband’s quest without reservation. Although building the baseball field takes time and land away from farming, she accepts her husband’s need to carry out his crazy scheme. She sits in the bleachers beside Ray and sees the reincarnation of the players just as he does. Karin Kinsella, their young daughter, is another enthusiastic believer who watches the games with her parents, never doubting the reality of what she sees.

J. D. Salinger was a talented author who abruptly stopped writing in the 1960’s. Ray barges in on Salinger and insists on taking him to a baseball game. After some resistance, he becomes a willing companion for Ray. Together, they try to track down Moonlight Graham who had briefly played ball many years ago. Becoming involved in Ray’s quest to find out what happened to Graham renews Salinger’s spirit. Eventually, he accompanies Ray to his Iowa farm where he too becomes a believer in the magical reincarnation of Shoeless Joe and his teamates.


(The entire section is 446 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Shoeless Joe has two protagonists, Ray Kinsella and J. D. Salinger, both of whom are devotees of baseball. Ray quits his lucrative...

(The entire section is 483 words.)