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Comment: DIFFERENT COVER THAN SHOWN, same ISBN. HEAVILY worn and discolored copy with writing and highlighting throughout. NOT A PRETTY COPY, but still a functional read.
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The Red Pony (Twentieth-Century Classics) Paperback – October 1, 1994

253 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


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 the Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

John Steinbeck (1902 - 1978) grew up in California and used the valiey and coast as the setting for some of his greatest fiction. He studied at Stanford University and then worked as a labourer and journalist in New York as he worked on the first of many fine novels. The Grapes of Wrath, often considered his finest book, was published in 1939. John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Series: Twentieth-Century Classics
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (October 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140187391
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140187397
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Steinbeck (1902-1968), winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, achieved popular success in 1935 when he published Tortilla Flat. He went on to write more than twenty-five novels, including The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Lloyd Sakazaki on April 3, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
John Steinbeck's The Red Pony is a deceptively simple "young reader's" book that blossoms into full life meaning when examined as an artfully presented novella. The brief 100-page work reads like a four-paneled painting which, viewed from the proper perspective, should be appreciated for what it truly is--a remarkable rendition of realism in 20th century American literature.

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.

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74 of 81 people found the following review helpful By "kevbo-l" on January 12, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Even though the book "The Red Pony", by John Stienbeck, was one of the saddest books I have ever read I would recommend it because the plot has many interesting turns and the theme is very emotional. "The Red Pony" was about a young boy, Jody, and his family who live on a ranch. The book consists of four short stories, each of which involves Jody learning a lesson of life. It is so tragic because in every story, something dies. In "The Gift" and "The Promise", two horses die, in "The Great Mountains" it is implied that Gitano committed suicide, and in "The Leader of the People" a part of Grandfather dies when he realizes that Westering has passed. When he realizes this, his whole motivation is gone, so a part of him is missing, or dead. My favorite story in "The Red Pony" was "The Promise", because I enjoyed the way Jody would imagine things about what he was doing on the way home from school, and about what the new colt would be like. Over all, I found this book very enjoyable, even though it was so melancholy.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By jmh on April 18, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read some of these reviews and could not believe how unrealistic some of these people are. Why should every novel be a princess pretty tale? If that is what you need, keep pretending and don't ever read some of the most poignantly beautiful reflections of what it is like to be a 10 year old boy growing up on a farm!
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.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on June 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
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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