The Red Pony Study Guide

The Red Pony By John Steinbeck

Mr. Tiflin gives his son Jody a red colt, but it dies in part due to Jody's failure to tend to it. The pony gets caught in the rain and catches a nasty cold. They diagnose the disease at the last possible second, as the horse is strangling on it's own mucus, and put a wet bag over it's muzzle to loosen the phlegm. Mr. Tiflin entrusts the pony to Jody to watch overnight, but when Jody falls asleep, the pony is gone. They find it outside, stranglig again, and they have to perform a tracheotomy so it will live. The horse promptly gets lost, and they find it only by tracking the circling buzzards: it has died. Jody is upset, but his father accepts the loss as part of his ascention to manhood.

As Jody longs to run off and explore the mountains, Gitano, a stranger visits who has been there. Jody visits the stranger in the middle of the night to find him polishing his rapier. Jody is entranced. The next morning, the stranger Gitano is gone, and Jody still longs to go.

Jody learns that his mother died in childbirth, and that he was raised on mare's milk - which his father believes might make him good with horses. Mr. Tiflin thinks Jody is ready for more responsibility, so he lets Jody take part in a foaling that goes bad, and the mare has to be killed to save the colt. Jody is haunted by the process and doesn't really want anything to do with the colt, but he cares for it in its mother's stead regardless.

Jody's maternal grandfather visits, and Mr. Tiflin is upset because the old man always tells the same stories. Jody's grandfather is heartbroken to be so disrespected, but Jody comforts him by telling the old man that he wants to be a leader of the people someday.

Have a question? Ask it now.