Where does Ray in Shoeless Joe refuse the call to his adventure?

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Ray Kinsella, the protagonist of Shoeless Joe, embarks on the archetypal hero's journey. He heeds the call to adventure when he hears the voice of an announcer telling him "to build it" and "he will come." Ray, a farmer in Iowa, heeds the call and constructs a baseball field out of the fields he had formerly planted with corn so that the famous "Shoeless" Joe Jackson can return to play on Ray's field. Ray wants to become part of the magic that will restore Shoeless Joe to the baseball field, long after Shoeless Joe was banned from professional baseball for having taken a bribe to throw the 1919 World Series.

However, Ray is stricken with doubts, and he at times refuses the call to adventure. For example, Ray's brother-in-law, Mark, is attempting to take over Ray's farm. He buys the mortgage on Ray's farm and with his partner, Abner Bluestein, tries to foreclose on the farm. Ray has lost money by tearing up his planted fields to build the baseball field, and he at times doubts his choice, as Fred Mason explains in the source cited below. For example, on page 73, Mark tells Ray, "It appears to me that you'll either have to sell the farm now or lose it in the fall." Ray seems to accept defeat and eventually responds, "And by the way, I will not have you tearing down our house and replacing it with a computer" (73). Annie, Ray's wife, is more optimistic and thinks that she and Ray will be able to survive and not be foreclosed on.

At other times, Ray also doubts the magic of his journey and thinks that it will not work out. For example, earlier, he is driving with J.D. Salinger and following the call he has heard to take Salinger to a Red Sox baseball game in Boston. Ray has a moment of doubt and thinks, "But what if it is all an act? What if he is directing me to the nearest jail?" (67). Ray believes that Salinger might be trying to imprison him rather than accompany him to the Red Sox game. Ray has some moments of doubt along the hero's journey, and perhaps you can find some other examples of when he refuses the call to adventure.


Mason, Fred. (2018). W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe: The Fairy Tale, the Hero’s Quest, and the Magic Realism of Baseball. 1-14. 10.15215/aupress/9781771992282.01.

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