Book Review on John Steinbeck's The Red Pony

Essay by Sublime311High School, 11th gradeA, October 2004

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A Boy and his Horse

Steinbeck, John. The Red Pony. 1965: NewYork, NewYork, Penguin Books USA, Inc. 100p.

"C'mon mom.... Can I keep it?? PLEEEAAASEE.... I promise I'll take good care of it. I'll feed it and train it and it'll teach me to be responsible!" It's possible that all children have used this line on their poor defenseless parents atleast once. Owning your first pet is like a right of passage. For the first time, children, who are always under the care of another, now have something under their care. The life of an animal now depends on their actions. Steinbeck's "The Red Pony" is full of rites of passage such as this. It portrays the coming of age of a young boy on a ranch through his experiences, observations, and relationships with the world around him. Steinbeck's writing style is enjoyable, but the book preaches life lessons that are much deeper than what on the surface seems like leisure reading.

The book is broken down into four sections, each revolving around a new sobering experience which Jody, a farm boy encounters, and the lessons he carries away from it. Jody is young and naïve. He doesn't yet understand that the world is an imperfect place, where things fall apart and come to an end. Over the course of the book, he deals with consequences of his actions, and the concept of loss.

In the first section, Billy Buck, the young farmhand and strong influence on Jody, convinces Jody's father to give him a horse, to teach him responsibility. Jody is ecstatic and filled with fascination at this beautiful new creature. However, when the horse is left in the corral during a rain shower, he never fully recovers from a chill. Jody is crushed when...