In each story, Jody learns an important moral lesson. In the first, he learns that even the incredibly experienced Billy Buck can be wrong, and that something as exciting and promising as a new horse can end in tragedy.
The final story was originally published later under the title "The Grandfather. The inclusion of this story in the edition shows Steinbeck's intention to round out and to complete a thematic structure for this work. This final story is interrelated with the first three stories by a symbolic confrontation with death.
In the first three stories, we witnessed a type of physical death — the deaths of the red pony, of old Gitano, and of Nellie the mare — and in the final story we not only witness the death of "westering" and of the past, but also the emotional death of the grandfather who realizes that his life is over and also that he is unable to communicate what his life has meant in terms of the settling of the west.
The final story is also subtly connected with the preceding story because at the end of "The Promise," Jody had heard his first swearword and, for the first time in the entire Red Pony, he practices his new swearword now when he refers to the "damn mice" and then "looked over his shoulder to see whether Billy Buck had noticed the mature profanity.
As in the opening story of this volume, we encounter Billy Buck. He is at work again. The Tiflin ranch is always a place of activity, as we have seen. There is a reference to his raking the last of the old year's haystack and, especially on a farm, one is constantly reminded of harvesting, renewing, and readying for yet another season.
And, as in the other three stories of The Red Pony, this story opens quietly: The cattle are calm and disinterested and the air is quiet, so quiet in fact that it can be heard only high above the Tiflin ranch, cupped between the Great Ones and the Gabilans. Despite the fact that we have seen Jody endure and mature during the agonizing death of his first pony Gabilan, the bloody death of Nellie and the birth of Black Demon and also the mystical appearance and disappearance of old Gitano, Steinbeck still refers to Jody as "the little boy, Jody.
And the epithet is deserved. Steinbeck is far too fine an author to take us through a series of "growing up" exercises in the short story and then end his quartet of tales with a young man almost full-grown in his maturity with one last challenge to master.
Jody scuffs his shoes, defying old admonitions to save good shoe leather, then picks up a stone and startles some white pigeons who are being pestered by a sly cat. He is bored and defiant again, as in the earlier story, "The Promise," and he looks for some animal or something to relieve his boredom; even mice will do.
And, as in "The Great Mountains," there is also the anticipation and the arrival of an older person — Gitano in the first story and now the grandfather in this story. Both stories deal with youth and old age and the rapport that is established between a young person Jody and an older person.
In both stories, the father's personality is emphasized and his failure to understand the older person emphasizes the young boy's ability to both understand and to empathize with the older person.
After establishing in the first part of the story a sense of the boredom and tedium of ranch life, Jody plans for a full-scale war on the mice: He makes plans to kill all of the mice which have grown "sleek, arrogant" and "smug in their security" for eight months now.
The mice hunt will later be denigrated when Grandfather compares it to the crossing of the Great Plains. The only thing delaying the mouse war is Carl Tiflin. Billy is strong to caution Jody not to begin hunting the mice until Carl has given him his permission.
Like ourselves, Jody needs no reminder: It is the dog that alerts Jody to the distant figure on horseback, moving down the road toward the house.
Carl Tiflin carries a letter, and after Steinbeck has established the tedium of activity on the farm for a young boy, the rest of the story is built around the impending visit of Jody's grandfather, Carl Tiflin's father-in-law, to the farm. In those days, to a young boy any visit would have been something to be greatly anticipated, but the visit of his grandfather is a special event because it was he who led a vast group of pioneers across the prairie, through Indian country, into this valley.
But as much as Jody looks forward to the visit, his father dreads the visit because the grandfather, he knows, will continue to tell the same stories over and over again, using the same words, the same pauses, the same phrases, and the same tedium.
Tiflin, however, recognizes that the wagon train trip across the prairie was the single most momentous thing in her father's life.
And for a change, she isn't "looking up from a pan of beans," "pouring boiling water," "working at the stove," or sending blankets to old Gitano. For the first time in this novel, she visibly disapproves of her husband's attitude.
She halts what we have seen to be dutiful acquiescence and "her face darkened angrily. Tiflin has taken on new color as a character and aroused our interest in what has largely been a male-oriented piece of western fiction. Even Jody is aware of the change within his mother. At one point in the altercation, he is as excitedly explosive as one of his dogs after a rabbit when he hears that Grandfather will be soon telling stories about Indians, but Carl dismisses his son with a verbal ousting.
Later, outside the house, the young boy hears his mother become logical and compassionate without yielding to whining or complaining.Struggling with the themes of John Steinbeck's The Red Pony? We've got the quick and easy lowdown on them here.
The Red Pony by John Steinbeck. Home / Literature / The Red Pony / no humans bite the dust in The Red Pony, but death's a-knocking nonetheless.
From the death of the red pony to Jody's brutal killing of the buzzard to Billy's. Steinbeck's short novel, The Red Pony, is a classic tale of a young boy's coming of age and his initiation into manhood. It consists of four short stories dealing with .
Struggling with the themes of John Steinbeck's The Red Pony? We've got the quick and easy lowdown on them here. The Red Pony by John Steinbeck. Home / Literature / The Red Pony / no humans bite the dust in The Red Pony, but death's a-knocking nonetheless. From the death of the red pony to Jody's brutal killing of the buzzard to Billy's.
Steinbeck, in Baja California in , let it be known that he was writing a children’s book, referring to what was to grow into The Red urbanagricultureinitiative.com first three of the four interconnected stories. Sure, no humans bite the dust in The Red Pony, but death's a-knocking nonetheless.
From the death of the red pony to Jody's brutal killing of the buzzard to Billy's sacrifice of the mare, we've got animals croaking in spades. And just because they're animals doesn't mean their deaths don't pack a punch. Young John Steinbeck holding onto a pony in his home town of Salinas, California, in Each of the four stories in The Red Pony takes place on the Tiflin Ranch in California shortly after the turn of the twentieth urbanagricultureinitiative.com ranch is situated in the picturesque Salinas Valley between the Santa Lucia and Gabilan Mountains.