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The Red Pony (Steinbeck "Essentials") Paperback – April 26, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
What to expect from the book: Expect four loosely connected short stories or vignettes, not a tightly woven epic plot. Expect crisp, articulate prose, without the extravagant detail, depth of characterization and flowing drama afforded by a longer work. Expect to experience thought-provoking, coming-of-age events in a young Salinas ranch boy's life, not the entertaining action of a Hollywood thriller. Also, expect to have to dig a little to understand the author's message, not to be spoonfed the theme of this unique work.
Here's my view of the thematic "glue" holding the individual stories together:
1. Boy learns about death: In "The Gift," 10-year old Jody learns through the sudden sickness, suffering and gruesome, buzzard-pecked death of his beloved red pony, Gabilan, that even "happy" gifts can result in sadness and loss, despite the best efforts of well-intentioned adults.
2. Boy views consequences of the ways of man: In "The Great Mountains," Jody sees how compassion has its economic and cultural limitations, when father refuses to honor the old paisano, Gitano's, request to live out his remaining years on the ranch where he was born. Consequence: Gitano disappears into the lonesome mountains towards the west, riding father's decrepit horse and ominously carrying only a sharp-bladed rapier.
3.Read more ›
This is a sensitive, time realistic story of what it would be like to live on a farm back in the days when you had to know practical therapy for your stock animals. These people respected their animals and knew that it was important to know emergency procedures, and knew how to do them to try and save their stock. Sometimes it worked, sometimes, it did not. It is this down side that focuses on Jody, the 10 year old son, that gets to own a pony who becomes ill with "strangles" a disease that shuts off his airway. The stockhand pulls no stops to save his life, and Jody chooses to stay by his beloved pony's side. The event is pivotal. As all events that revolve around life and death, this is the basis of which the story continues to move.
I do not find the story to be distasteful at all. I find it to be full of life and love. For those that can not get through the saddness of the pony dying, I feel sad that you missed some very relevant, affirming representations of the real meaning of life and love.
The characters are pithy, pragmatic, responsible. They stand in contrast to the people of the late 90's like the book's black cypress differs from an artificial Christmas tree. The end of the book leaves you wondering; trying to sort out what Steinbeck wanted us to understand. I enjoyed it. Enough that at midnight, before the week begins on Monday, I am trying to answer those questions for myself.
The problem is that because it's a "classic", it tends to be on school reading lists. And because the title is "The Red Pony," naturally teachers (or parents, or students themselves) recommend it to readers interested in horses. This happens especially because there are few if any animal books on the standard "great books" lists.
For a student of 16 or 17, this might be fine.
I read it at the age of 9.
For a 9 year old, this story is too graphic, too traumatic, too nasty for its nuance or lessons to be appreciated. It left me angry and in tears, especially horrible as some cruel joke that the only way an animal-oriented book could be on the reading list was to have the pony die a terrible death and then for the boy to have to watch the pony's eyes plucked out and eaten by vultures. As my revenge I absolutely refused to touch another Steinbeck book for 20 years.
Don't let this happen to your kids. Introduce them to Steinbeck via one of his other works, and wait on this one until they are older.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is an unfinished story. Many phrases are well stated as one expects of John Steinbeck. Chapters and paragraphs end abruptly without finishing the thought. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Valda Jean Evans
Terrible story, especially the way it ended. I don't recommend it if you are a Steinbeck fan. Hard to understand how someone who could write the "Grapes of Wrath" and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mary Therese Jackson Lutz
I've been a Steinbeck fan for over 50 years. Never get tired of re-reading. This was gifted.Published 2 months ago by John K
Who dares to review Steinbeck's work? Not me! I loved "The Red Pony" the first time I read it, 45 years ago. I loved it again in 2015. Read morePublished 2 months ago by 1mikieb1
This is one of my favorite books ever.
I read it at age 16.
I stayed up until two o'clock in the morning to read the whole thing.
yes, i cried