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The Red Pony

A book by John Steinbeck

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A perennial classic

  • Jun 28, 2010
This short book is comprised of several stories that take place during the formative years of a boy named Jody who is seen growing up on a farm in the countryside close to Salinas, California.

A keen observer of human psychology and an even better writer of it, author John Steinbeck can construct complex and life-like characters from a very small number of incidents in someone's life. His style of writing is immensely realistic, and yet neither dry nor familiarly journalistic. The stories covered here are only loosely related to each other, and each one of them can be read independently of the others. They center around typical aspects of rural life - taking care of a sick pony, witnessing the birth of a farm animal, dealing with a stranger who intends to stay on the farm without being welcome to do so, and the sudden visit of a relative.

Despite their rural setting, the underlying themes that Steinbeck explores are eminently relatable: learning for the first time about life and death, poignantly realizing that adults, despite their best intentions, are not always correct in their predictions, and having the epiphany that most interpersonal relations are not as straightforward and smooth as one might have previously thought. These are universal themes, and aside from the elegant writing style, are the main reason why this book has endured over the ages and become a classic.

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Bojan Tunguz ()
Ranked #53
I am a benevolent rascal. I love lounging in bed on a Sunday morning. Rainy days make me melancholy, but in a good kind of way. I am an incorrigible chocoholic. I hate Mondays, but I get over it by Wednesday. … more
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About this book


Book of four related stories by John Steinbeck, published in 1937 and expanded in 1945. The stories chronicle a young boy's maturation. In "The Gift," the best-known story, young Jody Tiflin is given a red pony by his rancher father. Under ranch hand Billy Buck's guidance, Jody learns to care for and train his pony, which he names Gabilan. Caught in an unexpected rain, Gabilan catches a cold and, despite Billy Buck's ministrations, dies. Jody watches the buzzards alight on the body of his beloved pony, and, distraught at his inability to control events, he kills one of them. The other stories in The Red Pony are "The Great Mountains," "The Promise," and "The Leader of the People," in which Jody develops empathy and also learns from his grandfather about "westering," the migration of people to new places and the urge for new experiences. --The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature--This text refers to theMass Market Paperbackedition.
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ISBN-10: 0140187391
ISBN-13: 978-0140187397
Author: John Steinbeck
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Classics
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