What are three key takeaways from Ray's meeting with his dad in Shoeless Joe?

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Shoeless Joe is Canadian writer W. P. Kinsella's 1982 story about a baseball-devoted farmer who is inspired to build a ballpark in the middle of his corn field. Shoeless Joe, despite its grounding in sport, focuses on themes of religion, family, and reconciliation, using strong biblical allusion and metaphor to argue that the power of faith is strong enough to transform even nature and reality.

In the background to the story, main character Ray's twin brother—Richard—has an angry exchange with their father. The ruptured relationship is never repaired before Ray's father dies and the lack of reconciliation weighs heavily on the family. Ray's father was an unsuccessful baseball player and, when Ray begins hearing voices telling him to build a ballpark, he decides to act on the commands.

Once the field is built, Ray is visited by a young version of his father who takes the form of a catcher. Ray helps his brother to see and interact with this image of their father.

The first thing that can be taken away is that the "he" and "his" which Ray has been hearing throughout the story ("if you build it, he will come" and "ease his pain") refers to Ray's father.

Second, both the reader and Ray learn that Ray and Ray's father are more alike than the protagonist would have thought. Ray is initially confused about how he should approach his father but ultimately decides to interact with him as an equal, observing that "we'll hardly realize that we're talking about love, and family, and life, and beauty, and friendship, and sharing." Like Ray, Ray's father had to deal with setbacks and heartbreaks and address them in the best way he could. Despite being his father, he is ultimately a human.

Finally, the story's theme of transcendence and the ability of raw belief to heal achieves a penultimate finality and significance. The game of baseball—which represents the power of faith—has trumped death itself to reconcile family and undo the mistakes of the past.

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Shoeless Joe (as well as the award-winning film adapted from the novel, Field of Dreams) is a prized piece of Americana, though it was written by Canadian writer W.P. Kinsella. Ray Kinsella is the protagonist. He is a middle-aged man with a wife and daughter who struggles to eke out a living as a farmer. Upon hearing a disembodied radio voice (which causes his brother-in-law, among others, to think he is mentally ill), he is compelled to sacrifice his crops (and the financial gain on which his family depends) to turn his land into a baseball field. This has special resonance as (in an exemplary demonstration of foreshadowing) the novel's opening chapters reveal that his estranged and late father had a special love of baseball.

After a series of events in which Kinsella enlists the help of writer (and fellow baseball fan) J.D. Salinger and meets the ghost of the title character, "Shoeless Joe" (a baseball player ousted from the major leagues after a bribery scandal in the 1919 World Series), Kinsella builds his field. The field is consecrated, as it were, by a number of phantom players, and among them is, to Ray's surprise, his father.

The final pages feature a dialogue with Kinsella, his father, and brother. One thing that can be concluded regarding Ray's meeting with his father is that his relationship with his brother will also be repaired. The audience also learns that the "he" featured in the baseball announcer's voice's message ("ease his pain") featured earlier in the novel refers not to J.D. Salinger, but to the protagonist's own father's pain concerning his strained relationship with his son. Finally, we learn that Ray is absolved from being marked insane by family and friends, as his brother, too, finally sees the ghost of their father.

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