In Shoeless Joe, does Ray's father influence his actions?

Quick answer:

Ray's father Johnny had an influence on Ray's life. Ray wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and build a baseball field just like the one Johnny built when he was younger. When Ray builds the field, he visits it often and talks to his father about what he has done. This shows that they have a special relationship and that Johnny is still there with him.

Expert Answers

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In Shoeless Joe, while Ray's father Johnny died twenty years prior to the events of the novel, his influence is felt through Ray's love of baseball. Without that love, ingrained from a young age, the notion to follow his own dream would have been easier to resist.

My father, I've been told, talked baseball statistics to my mother's belly while waiting for me to be born.
[...]
"You must go," Dad said. "I've been in all sixteen major-league parks. I want you to do it too. The summers belong to somebody else now, have for a long time." I nodded agreement.

"Hell, you know what I mean," he said, shaking his head.

I did indeed.
(Kinsella, Shoeless Joe, Google Books)

Johnny does not directly influence Ray's motivations; he impetus to build a baseball field comes from "the magic" which allows old baseball players to return and play new games; Ray's feeling is that Johnny would have loved to see these match-ups. Eventually, Ray discovers that Johnny also returns, allowing him to reconcile and share his achievement. In this manner, Johnny completes the circle, leaving his love of baseball to Ray, who builds a field, thus passing Johnny's love onto later generations.

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