Shoeless Joe is a beautifully written novel that will expose students to the richness and diversity of the English language. Students will be expected to explore theme by looking at various aspects of the novel such as point of view, the use of figurative language, character, plot development and other rhetorical devices. This page will be useful to teachers and students alike. Be sure the check out the step by step writing of a 5 paragraph essay on the character of Ray.
Shoeless Joe is about baseball. But it's also about love and the power of dreams to make people come alive. Will you be among the Iowa dreamers who can see a cornfield stadium filled with baseball's greatest heroes? (The Boston Globe)
Rationale | Objectives | Lesson Outline | Reading Guide | Jigsaw Group Work | Character Analysis of Ray Kinsella
ENG2A Novel Unit
Shoeless Joe is a beautifully written novel that will expose students to the richness and diversity of the English language. Students will be expected to explore theme by looking at various aspects of the novel such as point of view, the use of figurative language, character, plot development and other rhetorical devices.
Students will also be encouraged to copy
Kinsella's style by completing various modelling exercises. Students will
be encouraged to look for and copy some of the more complex sentence patterns
and also to experiment with figurative language similar to that seen in
the novel. (This can provide an excellent review of the show paragraph
taken earlier in the year.)
The student will be able to:
-recognize the value of "good" literature;
-understand point of view and its effect
on the narrative;
-identify symbols, imagery, figurative
language, narrative structure, and show how all of these elements create
meaning in the novel;
-express both orally and written personal
responses to the ideas and concepts presented in the novel;
-model sentence structures from the novel;
-use figurative language more effectively;
-work effectively in small groups and
independently to study various aspects of the novel.
1. Students will be assigned the novel
for independent reading. They are to write a one to two page journal entry
for each of the sections of the novel. They will also have a language
journal where they are to write out interesting sentence structures and
images from the novel.
2. Students will then watch the movie
Field of Dreams.
3. Students will be given a number of
quotations dealing with various aspects of the novel. They will study
these quotations in small groups followed by whole class discussion. The
main aim is to have the students discover the themes and meaning
of this novel with very little direction from the teacher.
1. Discuss the appropriateness of the
quote by Robert Kennedy as an epigram for the beginning of Shoeless
2. Baseball becomes a metaphor for religion,
a symbol of the need to hold onto something, anything, in a faithless
age. Assess the validity of this statement.
3. Ray's baseball field becomes a place
for a second chance: a sanctuary for healing past hurts, restoring lost
dreams, and providing new opportunities. What message is Kinsella trying
to get across to his reader.
4. Regret springs from the unlived life,
the missed opportunities dead and gone forever. The novel portrays the
fundamental need to reaffirm the love that was not expressed or shared
at the time of first opportunity. Find evidence to support or contradict
the above statement.
5. Shoeless Joe is about baseball
and dreams and the will to believe,about love and wonder and the power
of imagination to transcend reason, time, and yes, even death." Explain
how Shoeless Joe is about any two of these.
6. Shoeless Joe is more about
dreaming than about baseball. Or perhaps more about courage than either
dreams or baseball. What is your view?
7. Shoeless Joe is, I feel, a
story about the power of love and the power of dreams; it's about the
ability to chase a dream and make it come true. Find evidence in the novel
to support or to challenge this statement.
8. In your opinion, why did W. P. Kinsella
write this novel?
9. Shoeless Joe is also about dreams
as a way of escaping from the downward pull of everyday reality. Show
how the novel reveals "the downward pull of reality" in the lives of several
10. There are those who dream and pursue
it, those who dream and suppress it and those who don't dream at all.
How does this statement relate to the novel Shoeless Joe.
11. Kinsella also uses baseball to reveal
the eternal verities; men and women need to dream, to find things to cherish,
to fall in love and share their desires, and finally to remind us that,
in one way or another, we all die too soon. Does the writer's use of a
baseball setting seem appropriate for revealing these "eternal verities"?
12. Find 15 examples of figurative language
in Shoeless Joe.
13. Which title do you prefer: Shoeless
Joe or Field of Dreams?
This reading guide is designed to help
you with your reading of the novel Shoeless Joe. Try
to answer all of the questions and complete all of the exercises in the
reading guide. If you encounter difficulties reading the novel, be sure
to see me for help at noon hour. By completing this guide you will be
prepared to discuss various aspects of the novel when we begin our in
Chapter 1 "Shoeless
Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa"
1. Write a brief summary of this chapter.
2. Make a character chart. Begin listing
the characteristics of the characters you encounter in Chapter 1.
3. Make note of any unusual or effective
uses of language. (vocabulary, sentence structure, imagery, similes, metaphors)
4. Make note of any religious references
in Chapter I.
5. Explain what the author means by,
"Shoeless Joe became a symbol of the tyranny of the powerful over the
6. What did Ray do before becoming a
farmer? (Make note of this for discussion purposes.)
7. Do you notice anything different about
verb tense in this first chapter? If so explain.
8. Make note of any references to dreams
or magic. (Make note of this for future discussion.)
9. Ray says, "I wish someone else understood.
Perhaps my daughter will...There is a magic about her." Why do you think
his daughter might understand?
10. What elements of an effective introduction
are found in this first chapter? Explain
11. Describe the relationship of Ray, Annie, and Karin.
Chapter 2 "They Tore
Down the Polo Grounds in 1964"
1. Summarize the chapter.
2. Continue your character chart. Be
sure to note any new characters introduced in this chapter.
3. Make note of any religious references.
4. Make note of any unusual or effective
language. (vocabulary, sentence structure, imagery, similes, metaphors
5. Make note of any references to dreams
6. What happens each time Ray finishes
a new section of the field?
7. What is the significance of Karin
announcing to her father, " Daddy, the baseball man's outside."
8. Where does the first tense shift occur?
Why does the author do this? Make note of the major tense shifts.
9. When Ray is describing Annie's family
he makes several references to religion. What tone is Ray using to describe
the family. What do you think is the author's intent?
10. What message does Ray hear from the
11. Annie says to Ray, "Ray, it's so
perfect here. Do whatever you have to, to keep it that way." What is the
significance of this quotation?
12. What are we told about J.D. Salinger?
13. What is the name of Ray's twin brother?
14. What do we learn about Mark in this
chapter. The description is less than flattering. What does the author
seem to be making fun of in this chapter?
15. Summarize Ray's meeting with Salinger?
Why do you think Salinger accepts to go along?
16. What is the basic conflict between
the ideas of Ray and Mark?
17. What is ironical about Mark's statement,
"Sure, you're going to discover diamonds in your cornfield."
18. Ray says to Jerry on at least two
occasions, "Open up your senses Jerry." What does Ray mean by this? Why
is this important?
19. What is the third message that Ray
20. How is the suspense heightened at
the end of the chapter?
Chapter 3: The Life
and Time of Moonlight Graham
1. Summarize the chapter.
2. At the beginning of the chapter where
are Ray and Salinger going?
3. What is the fourth message that is
heard by Salinger?
4. How does the mention of Catcher
in the Rye fit in with the overall theme of the novel?
5. Make note of any religious imagery
in this chapter.
6. Make note of any of figurative language
and effective sentence structures in this chapter.
7. Make note of any references to dreams
8. What do they find out about Doc Graham?
9. What is the significance of Doc's
question, "Are you a magnet, Ray Kinsella?"
10. How did Doc Graham get his nickname?
11. What happens at the end of the chapter
to build suspense?
12. Continue your character chart.
1. Summarize the chapter.
2. What importance reference to dreams
is made early in the chapter? How does this contribute to the overall
theme of the novel?
3. Briefly describe what happens at the empty baseball stadium.
What atmosphere is created in this part
of the chapter?
4. Make note of the religious references
in this chapter.
5. Make note of any references to magic
in this chapter.
6. What new characters are we introduced
to in this chapter?
7. Why do you think they cannot see the
players when they first arrive at Ray's farm?
8. What is significant about the fact
that once again it is Karin who announces the arrival of the players?
9. What is significant about the meeting
between Ray and Gypsy?
10. Why do you think Richard cannot see
11. What is significant about the following quotation: " For it's money they have and peace they lack"
1. What do we find out about Salinger?
2. What happens to Salinger?
3. What is the perfect dream?
We will form six groups of five students
each. Your first group will be your home group. Every body in the home
group will be assigned a topic. All five of the topics must be covered
by your group. Once the topics are chosen, all those with the same topic
will form expert groups and will work together to prepare a presentation
for their home group.
1. Figurative Language in the
novel: This group will explore Kinsella's extensive use of figurative
language in the novel. The group will focus mainly on Kinsella's use of
simile and metaphor. The purpose of the group work is to determine how
the author's use of simile and metaphor help to develop the theme of the
2. Character Study 1:
This group will examine the following characters: Ray, and Annie. The
group will develop a character sketch of each of the characters and will
discuss the importance of the character to the development the novel.
It has been said that Ray is the only truly developed character. Students
will explore the validity of this statement.
3. Character Study 2:
This group will examine the following characters: Mark, Karin, Eddie,
and Doc Graham. The group will develop a character sketch of each of the
characters and will discuss the importance of the character to the development
the novel. It has been said that Ray is the only truly developed character.
Students will explore the validity of this statement.
4. Motif in the Novel:
The group will trace the development of the following motifs in the novel:
religion, magic, and dreams. Students will look at how the development
of these motifs contribute to the overall meaning of the novel.
5. Setting, Point of View, and
Symbolism: This group will looking at the various settings in
the novel and show how these settings contribute to the overall theme
of the novel. Students will also look at the effect of first person narration.
In addition to this students will also look at symbolism in the novel.
The following outline will walk you through
the process of writing a five paragraph character analysis.
Assignment: You have
been asked to write a five paragraph character analysis of Ray Kinsella
in the novel Shoeless Joe.
Before beginning to write your draft
you need to take some time to jot down some ideas about the character
of Ray. Usually when we are asked to do a character analysis we look at
what the character does, at what the character says, and at what is said
about the character. Begin your pre-writing by writing down the things
that Ray does. For example:
-builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield
-he does what the "voice" tells him to do
-he travels across the country to meet J.D. Salinger
-he argues with Mark about the farm
-he leaves his job to take up farming
Next look at what Ray says in the novel.
Since this novel uses first person narration, it is very important to
look at what Ray says. What he says will give you some idea about his
character. Once you have done this look at what others say about him.
Once you have outlined the above, look
for words that you think best describe Ray. (Hint: Be specific. Avoid
saying things like, "Ray is nice". This is not specific. Try using a thesaurus
to help you find words that best express what Ray is like.
Most of you have said some of the following things about Ray:
-Ray is a dreamer.
-Ray has childlike innocence.
-Ray follows his dreams.
-Ray is determined.
-Ray follows his dreams.
-Ray is an idealist.
-Ray is a loving person.
-Ray believes in pursuing his dream.
Developing the Thesis Statement:
Now what you need to do is to begin formulating
your thesis. Remember a thesis must contain a limited subject, an opinion
and should contain a blueprint or directional statement. The thesis statement
does not have to be one sentence. The blueprint or directional
statement can be in a separate sentence.
At this point you should have a list
of what Ray does, says and what is said about him. You also have made
a list of statements about Ray's character. You will use this to formulate
your thesis statement and to provide you with support.
Thesis: In the novel
Shoeless Joe, Ray Kinsella is an idealist who believes in the power
of dreams and the ability to chase a dream and make it come true.
Once you have a thesis, the next thing
is to begin developing your support. (Oops! I forgot the blueprint.) Actually,
sometimes it is a good idea to take a look at how you are going to support
your thesis before you actually develop your blueprint.
What you have to do at this point is
ask yourself the following questions: What is there in the novel to support
my thesis statement? What is there in the novel that shows that Ray is
an idealist? What is there in the novel that shows that Ray believes in
the power of dreams? What is there in the novel that shows that Ray believes
in the ability to chase a dream and make it come true?
Once you have answered these questions
you will have an outline for your middle paragraph support as well as
blueprint for your thesis statement.
the novel Shoeless Joe, Ray Kinsella is an idealist who believes
in the power of dreams and the ability to chase a dream and make it come
true. Blueprint: Ray's idealistic nature can be
seen when he plows under his field to build his baseball field ;
when he travel across the country to meet J.D. Salinger and finally
in the last chapter when he meets his father.
You might be asking, "Where did your
blueprint come from"?
I chose three places in the novel that
I felt would prove that Ray is an idealist.
1. When Ray plows under his field, this
shows that he believes in the power of dreams. Someone who did not would
not follow what his heart told him to do.
2. Someone who did not believe in dreams
would not drive across the country to meet someone he/she did not know.
3. His love for his father and his need
to heal past hurts is so great that it makes his dream come true. He does
get to meet his father at the end of the novel.
You now have a thesis statement and a
blueprint and a basic outline for your three middle paragraphs
At this point you want to begin working
on the middle paragraphs. Begin by developing the topic sentence for each
of the paragraphs. Remember that these topic sentences should have a transition
and a reminder of the thesis.
Topic Sentence 1: At
the beginning of the novel, Ray's belief in the power of dreams of the
novel gives him the courage to plow under his cornfield and build a left
field for Shoeless Joe Jackson, a baseball player who had been dead for
Topic Sentence 2: Later
in the novel when Ray hears the voice say, "Ease his pain", Ray idealistic
nature sends him off in search of J.D. Salinger.
Topic Sentence 3: Finally,
it is Ray's idealistic nature and his belief in the ability to chase a
dream and make it come true that allows him to be reunited with his father
at the end of the novel.
The next step is to fill in the support for each of the middle paragraph. Try to include at least two or three items of support for each of the middle paragraphs.
Once this is finished you are ready to
write your reworded thesis statement for you concluding paragraph.
Reworded Thesis Statement:
Ray's idealism and his belief in the power of dreams does in fact allow
Ray to chase a dream and make it come true.
Yes! Yes! Yes! We are almost finished.
You are almost ready to write your first draft. THAT'S RIGHT! YOUR FIRST
DRAFT. Most of what you have done so far is pre-writing. You have been
thinking and writing down your thoughts. Now you are almost ready to put
it all down in draft form.
The last thing you have to do is write your motivator and your clincher.
The motivator comes at the beginning
of your introduction. Basically, you want to introduce your reader to
your topic. Sometimes you can simply give a brief summary of the novel
that leads into your topic. We will look at some motivating techniques
The clincher comes at the very end of
your essay. Here you sum up and try to leave your ready with something
to think about. One technique that is sometimes overused is to end the
essay with a question. If you do this make sure that it fits.
There you have it. I hope that this will
be helpful. Good luck.