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The Red Pony

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Young Jody Tiflin lives on his father's California ranch. He is thrilled when his father gives him a red pony, and later promises him the colt of a bay mare. Both these gifts bring joy to Jody's life--but tragedy soon follows. As Jody begins to learn the harsh lessons of life and death, he starts to understand what growing up and becoming an adult really means.

95 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1933

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About the author

John Steinbeck

546 books20.8k followers
John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley region of California, a culturally diverse place of rich migratory and immigrant history. This upbringing imparted a regionalistic flavor to his writing, giving many of his works a distinct sense of place.

Steinbeck moved briefly to New York City, but soon returned home to California to begin his career as a writer. Most of his earlier work dealt with subjects familiar to him from his formative years. An exception was his first novel Cup of Gold which concerns the pirate Henry Morgan, whose adventures had captured Steinbeck's imagination as a child.

In his subsequent novels, Steinbeck found a more authentic voice by drawing upon direct memories of his life in California. Later he used real historical conditions and events in the first half of 20th century America, which he had experienced first-hand as a reporter.

Steinbeck often populated his stories with struggling characters; his works examined the lives of the working class and migrant workers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. His later body of work reflected his wide range of interests, including marine biology, politics, religion, history, and mythology.

One of his last published works was Travels with Charley, a travelogue of a road trip he took in 1960 to rediscover America. He died in 1968 in New York of a heart attack and his ashes are interred in Salinas.

Seventeen of his works, including The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1952), went on to become Hollywood films, and Steinbeck also achieved success as a Hollywood writer, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Story in 1944 for Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,651 reviews
Profile Image for Muhtasin.
182 reviews642 followers
February 5, 2021
The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

Steinbeck has always done really well when it comes to describing human emotions. In this novella, there are four chapters. And each one can be defined as a standalone but all connected. It is an engaging and very well-written story. It has some depressing moments. However, throughout the tale, it explores many things, especially about human relationships with nature.
No matter how good a man is, there's always some horse can pitch him.

Good read.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,198 followers
February 3, 2015
A story about a pretty, pretty precious pony? Hurray! This is going to be giggly-joyous, laughy-good pony times!...What? It's written by John Steinbeck? Fuck. Sorry pony, you or everyone you love is going to die.

Yes, these are tales of living on a ranch in the early days (well, early-ish) of California, but underneath they are more of the same Steinbeck: the vignettes of the hardscrabble life of immigrant farmers.

Specifically, it's second and third generation immigrants, such as seen in Tortilla Flat. The people are established. This is their land. It feels as if it's always been theirs, but there were others before them...ghosts now.

The Red Pony follows a boy, who is coming of age and given the responsibility of raising his own horse. Steinbeck captures well the emotions and perspective of a child feeling his way in a world that is changing for him, new understandings that jab at young folks daily like minor revelations. Will he cope?

Thought I'd give this a read, what with my interest in animals being piqued by Goodreads' recent ads for All Creatures Great and Small. The Red Pony reads like a collection of related short stories. It definitely doesn't feel like a complete novel with a plot, climax and satisfying finish. There's just theme, like viewing a photo album. That can be enjoyable too, after all, every picture tells a story, don't it?
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,568 reviews55.5k followers
November 9, 2021
The Red Pony, John Steinbeck

The Red Pony is an episodic novella written by American writer John Steinbeck in 1933.

The stories in the book are tales of a boy named Jody Tiflin. The book has four different stories about Jody and his life on his father's California ranch.

Other main characters include:
Carl Tiflin – Jody's father;
Billy Buck – an expert in horses and a working hand on the ranch;
Mrs. Tiflin – Jody's mother;
Jody's grandfather – Mrs. Tiflin's father, who has a history of crossing the Oregon Trail, and enjoys telling stories about his experiences;
and Gitano – an old man who wishes to die at the Tiflin ranch.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوم ماه اکتبر سال1975میلادی

عنوان: اسب سرخ؛ اثر: جان اشتاین بک؛ مترجم: مهدی افشار؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، اکباتان، سال1353، در144ص، چاپ دوم سال1362، موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

جودی، پسرک آرام، و کمرویی است، که در یک مزرعه، زندگی میکند؛ روزی پدرش «اسب سرخی» را، به همراه میآورد، تا از آنِ «جودی» باشد؛ «جودی»، از اسب مراقبت میکند، و بسیار به اسب دلبسته میشود؛ کتاب، شرح مراقبتها، و احساسهای «جودی»، به «اسب سرخ» است؛ هرچند در ادامه ی داستان، «اسب سرخ» میمیرد، و قرار است «نلی» اسب ماده ی باردار مزرعه، و کره اش به «جودی» برسد؛ ...؛

نقل از متن: (مادر «جودی»، حرف وی را قطع کرد، گفت: «جودی»، امشب جعبه ی هیزم رو، کاملاً پرکن، شب گذشته، هیزمها رو، روی هم ریخته بودی، در نتیجه، جعبه نصفه هم نشده بود؛ امشب هیزمها رو، کاملاً صاف بذار، که جعبه پر بشه؛ در ضمن، مرغ‌ها ممکنه، جایی دور از چشمرس تخم گذاشته باشن، و يا ممکنه، سگ‌ها، تخم‌مرغ‌ها رو خورده باشن؛ به‌ هر حال، لونه هاشونو خوب نگاه کن، اگه تخم‌ مرغ هست، اونا رو بردار

دهان «جودی»، هنوز می‌جنبید، او رفت، تا همانند دیگر روزها، به کارهایش برسد؛ وقتی برای مرغ‌ها، دانه پاشید، بلدرچین‌ها نیز، برای دانه چینی پایین آمدند، تا با مرغ‌ها هم‌سفره شوند؛ به دلایلی، پدر «جودی»، از این‌که بلدرچین‌ها، با مرغ‌ها هم‌سفره شوند، احساس رضایت می‌کرد؛ او به‌ هیچ‌وجه اجازه نمی‌داد، کسی در اطراف خانه‌ اش، تیراندازی کند، چون وحشت از آن داشت، بلدرچین‌ها رمیده، و از آن منطقه کوچ کنند

وقتی جعبه ی هیزم، از هیمه آکنده شد، «جودی» تفنگ بیست دو خود را، برداشت، و به‌ طرف چشمه ی آب سردی، که در مسیر بوته‌ ها جاری بود، حرکت کرد؛ امروز، برای بار دوم، از چشمه، آب نوشید، و تصمیم گرفت، به هر چیز، که جلوی چشمش قرار گرفت، شلیک کند، به صخره‌ ها، به خرگوش‌ها، به پرندگان در حال پرواز، و یا به خوک بزرگ کله سیاه، که در زیر درخت سرو، چرا می‌کرد؛ ولی شلیک نکرد، زیرا اصلاً فشنگ نداشت، و هیچ‌گاه نیز، تا زمانیکه دوازده‌ ساله نمی‌شد، فشنگ، در اختیارش قرار نمی‌گرفت؛ اگر پدرش می‌دید، او تفنگ را به‌ طرف خانه، نشانه رفته، فشنگ‌ها برای یکسال دیگر، از دسترسش دور می‌ماند

جودی، وقتی این موضوع را، به یاد آورد، دیگر تفنگ را، به‌ طرف پایین تپه، نشانه نرفت؛ برای «جودی»، دو سال انتظار کشیدن، برای دست یافتن به فشنگ، زمان کوتاهی نبود، و او نمی‌خواست، یک سال دیگر، بر زمان انتظار افزوده شود؛ تقریباً همه ی هدایایی که پدرش، به او می‌داد، با قید احتیاط، و مشروط بود، و همین مشروط بودن هدایا، از ارزش آن‌ها، در چشم «جودی» می‌کاست، و این خود مقررات چندان جالبی نبود

از آنجا که پدر، و «بیلی»، دیر به خانه بازگشتند، صرف شام، به تاریکی شب کشید، و سرانجام، وقتی با «بیلی باک»، پشت میز نشستند، «جودی» می‌توانست، بوی لذت‌بخش «براندی» را، از میان نفس‌های پدرش، به درون‌ بینی بکشد، و این بو، برای «جودی»، خوش‌آیند بود، به‌ خصوص وقتی روی سخن پدرش، با او بود، و بوی «براندی»، بهتر در هوای تنفسی «جودی»، پراکنده می‌شد؛ پدر، امشب سر کیف بود، و حتا از شیطنت‌های خودش، در زمانی که پسر بچه‌ ای بود، و از روزگاری که، طبیعت بسیار وحشی‌تر بود، سخن گفت)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 01/11/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 17/08/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,012 reviews97 followers
May 7, 2018
This book was featured on Shabby Sunday @ https://readrantrockandroll.com/2018/...

I can still remember reading this book for the first time when I was in junior high school and I didn't like it. From the look of the cover and title, you'd think you'd be reading a happy little novella about a boy and his horse, but it's so much more than that.

The Red Pony is a collection of four short stories about a 10-year-old boy named Jody and his life on a ranch with his family. As time moves forward and he matures, Jody is exposed to multiple events and learns many lessons on what it means to be a man. Much of what he learns comes from his father and the farm hand named Billy. He looks up to them both.

"Jody did not ask where his father and Billy Buck were riding that day, but he wished he might go along. His father was a disciplinarian. Jody obeyed him in everything without questions of any kind."

I don't want to summarize the four stories and spoil them for those that haven't read this, but I will say I had a good mix of emotions when reading it for the second time. I was sad and angry multiple times and didn't care for a few of the characters, but there was happiness here too, especially when Jody gains some responsibility and gets excited about upcoming future events like visiting with his grandfather, or caring for his pony by himself for the first time.

"Jody was glad when they had gone. He took brush and currycomb from the wall, took down the barrier of the box stall and stepped cautiously in."

One thing I didn't like, was how I didn't really see Jody's character change over time. With the death he's experienced, he certainly doesn't seem to be effected by it much and maybe that's because as a boy, he wasn't allowed to share his feelings vocally. His actions portray anger, but not a whole lot of sympathy for the animals themselves as he still continues to irritate them by throwing rocks, etc. He seems to forget about how sad he was to lose a friend to death and doesn't make the connection.

There are many themes in this book including coming of age, tragedy, death and disappointment to mention a few, but also one I didn't truly pick up on the first time I read it. It appears that the modern men in the story don't feel that they measure up to older men from the past. This is something I experienced myself--even as a female--when I moved out to the country. Being raised in the city meant that I didn't have the experience the country folk had as far as raising your own food, and in turn, putting the animals to death. A lady I met within the first year of living in the country told me that my generation weren't survivors and I had to stand corrected as I realized there was no way I was going to cut a chicken's head off with my hand like she did so effortlessly, in fact, I wasn't ever going to do it. There were multiple times in the book that I cringed because of the details that were given and it reminded me of this very moment in my life, but this is farm life, whether you're exposed or not and that's just part of it.

Overall, this is a powerful little novel and worth a try. You might end up hating it, or you might be sucked into the writing like I was because it's so descriptive and realistic.  I wound up devouring this in one sitting when reading it for the second time.

My copy is from 1992, not very old, but still vintage. It's in good condition for the most part with mainly cover wear.

My rating is 4****
Profile Image for Tim.
467 reviews580 followers
February 27, 2022
Hey everyone, it's my 400th review on goodreads!!!!!!



Honestly I'm a little surprised we've gotten this far as I mostly started reviewing just to make some mental notes on things I liked about recently read books… but here we are and with the 400th review. I decided to go with another classic. Let's try another cheerful Steinbeck work shall we?

It's the story of a boy and his pony! How sad can this one…

Oh…

Oh...



As I said, another cheerful Steinbeck read.

The book is really four connected short stories focusing on a young boy named Jody. In one he learns about death. In another he learns about death. In another he learns about life… and death. And guess what, there's some more education in the fourth as well.



Yes, I know I'm just making this sound like a charming book, aren't I? Seriously though, it's actually a great examination of a person coming to terms with mortality at various points in time. On one hand, it feels like it all hits this poor kid in a short amount of time, but it gets the point across.

The last Steinbeck I read (Burning Bright) was a major disappointment; this one certainly makes up for that. I do not find it as good as Of Mice and Men, but this is certainly well worth a read. I can't say it's a "fun" book, but it is a beautiful one and one I highly recommend... just, you know, don't buy it for a child thinking it will be a fun book about a boy and a pony because that would just be cruel.

4/5 stars.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
732 reviews5,003 followers
March 31, 2022
Continuing my reading tour of Big Sad with Short Steinbeck, our next stop is The Red Pony, an episodic bildungsroman following the young Jody Tiflin and family as he learns the harsh facts of life on their Californian farm. Written between 1933-36 and published individually in magazines, The Red Pony was published as one volume in 1937 with these four Jody stories that grapple with the big issues of responsibility, disappointment, death, family, and the power and inhumanity of nature. In his small life on the farm, Jody looks to the horizon of the great mountains with a thirst for big adventure and big living and as these stories progress we see him vacillate between being an innocent child and a budding adult being carved out by the grit of the world and we hope he is productively internalizing the life lessons that make the difference between growing up or merely growing older.

I’ll bet they don’t know what’s going to happen to them today.’
‘No, nor you either,’ Billy remarked philosophically, ‘nor me, nor anyone.


Steinbeck constructs a harsh childhood for Jody, one with a tepid relationship with a father from whom he craves acceptance and praise and one with an early taste for failure and death. The opening story is a tragic tale where his ownership of his beautiful red pony comes to a sad and violent end and Jody, with the reality of death still sinking in, responds with an outburt of emotion doubling down on violence and death. It is his first reckoning not only with grief but shame, ‘He didn't care about the bird, or its life, but he knew what older people would say if they had seen him kill it,’ Steinbeck writes, ‘he was ashamed because of their potential opinion.’ That ‘potential opinion’ is Jody’s social eye awakening, realizing his actions are judged and have a bearing not only on his reputation and future but on his family as well.

Death is omnipresent in this episodic novella, with the rather moving tale of the old man who wishes to die on the Tiflin farm (there’s some hints at land acknowledgement going on here, or at least the old man wishing a white man would) and later on the troubled birth of a horse. The latter is an interesting lesson for Jody about how closely knit life and death are, with life literally birthed from a death. Steinbeck said buckle up, life is some sad bullshit, though this theme of wrestling with the inevitability of death seems to permeate his entire ouvreur. But is it death that is so saddest or is it the living on without (or past) a purpose that seems the most tragic, as we examine in the story of the grandfather coming to live on the farm.

I found the father to be one of the most interesting characters here. He is short on words for Jody and quick on setting him on a course for some life lessons, but when he praises Jody you can really feel the appreciation and dude-bonding going on strong. The coming-of-age dynamics here does have a bit of an uncomfortable tough guy masculinity (but in keeping for the times, I suppose). However, Billy Buck makes an interesting foil character to papa Carl and teases the notion of found families or father figures outside the family. Problem is, Billy Buck can’t keep his promise to save the pony. On the plus side, he sticks up for Jody, even in the face of Carl, and becomes another guidepost on Jody’s path to adulthood.

I tell those stories, but they're not what I want to tell’, say the grandfather late in the book, ‘I only know how I want people to feel when I tell them.’ I think this perfectly summarizes this brief book: the emotions and empathy that resonate with the reader vastly outweigh the admittedly slight stories that form a loose narrative here. Steinbeck is great at capturing emotion and feeding it to you as a life lesson while making it seem more like a delightful snack than a take-your-medicine sort of deal. I always picture Steinbeck writing and slapping his knee saying "hoo-boy this is some Great American Novel stuff." He’s literary in the best ways, chock full of symbolism and purpose and historical context, etc., but what hits the hardest is the emotional punches and the way his prose so easily places you in the hearts and minds of his characters. The Red Pony is an early work, which shows, but it also points towards the greatness that would come in Steinbeck’s career, particularly his explorations of families and their influence in coming of age narratives such as in East of Eden.

This is a short little book that packs quite the punch. It might not be an ideal starting point for readers, but it makes for a wonderful read and expanded impression on Steinbeck as a writer and thinker: you’ll find many of these themes played in variations of the scale in his later novels. I always enjoy sobbing with Steinbeck and this is a quick but powerful little book.
3.5/5
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
447 reviews3,219 followers
December 29, 2019
Sometime in the early 1930's, on an isolated small ranch, in northern California's long, rugged, Salinas Valley, a boy of ten, mischievous Jody Tiflin, lives with his parents, stern father Carl, and the equally tough, but loving mother Ruth, they are poor like everyone else, in the area, yet manage to eke out a living, their only hired hand the very capable Billy Buck, an expert in taking care of horses...Two dogs, four cats, six horses and the same amount of cows, many pigs, and more chickens, various wild critters that roam the land, coyotes, rabbits, gophers, plenty of birds, and numerous rodents, etcetera, a typical place in that era. The lonely boy walks a mile to school every day, nothing changes in the harsh, dull territory, until after his father and Billy Buck, return from a trip to the city of Salinas, to sell cows, bringing a gift to Jody, a beautiful, amazing, red pony, his own horse, the ecstatic child promises to take good care of the animal, with the help and knowledge of Billy Buck. He trains the colt, shows him to his envious friends, now named Gabilan, after the mysterious local mountains, that Jody always wants to explore, asking questions, to everybody around, what's over there, (they don't know, his imagination runs wild) under the wise supervision of Mr.Buck, the kid can't wait until he can put the red saddle , that came with the horse, on the animal... disappointed it will be two lengthy years, until that is possible, still the pony he is constantly thinking about, is kept clean and well fed... a new respect his father shows him, the proud lad is happy, but the future is unclear...A stranger arrives, a very old man named Gitano, who's family had owned a vast ranch , here, until it was broken up into little pieces, in fact born nearby, in a mud house , that has fallen down, he wants to stay , and never leave, besides as a youth, he had once been to the mountains, which fascinates Jody, too ancient to work, and in the great depression, money is hard to make, still insists, he won't take no for an answer... In this episodic novella, Mrs.Tiflin's father, returns for a visit, Mr.Tiflin is not happy, ( but has no choice) since all he does, is tell old stories, how he led a wagon train across the plains to California, during the old wild west days, and the Indians stealing their horses , after many such recitals , they become very boring, and nobody listens other than Jody...A slice of Americana, that has long been gone, the ghosts still haunt the valley , these pioneers can never be totally forgotten, since they made California , what it is today... whatever that is...
Profile Image for Lisa.
971 reviews3,331 followers
February 1, 2020
You can't protect children from pain.

That is a painful realisation in itself for most parents of my generation. We tend to feel the need to shield our beloved sons and daughters from the more disturbing aspects of life and death as long as possible, and that includes thinking carefully about the reading materials we give them or put on the curriculum in school.

This became very evident to me the other day when I held The Red Pony in my hand, pondering on the harshness of the message, the sadness of the main character's situation, and the possibility of a student becoming very upset by the brilliant short novel. Should I recommend it or not? Could the student take in the STORY of love and death even remotely as well as Steinbeck's character has to learn to cope "in his reality"?

We tend to find it easier to confront our children with pain if it is eased in the end, offering a positive outlook on better times ahead. Steinbeck does not do those kinds of fairytale delusions. He does reality with empathy. And it takes a lot of maturity to deal with reality with empathy, so are our young ready for that?

There is this catch 22 we always discuss when students are looking for their first jobs: "work experience" is inevitably asked for, but how are you to gain work experience without having a few "first" jobs to learn in? The same goes for reading painful literature, I believe: we have to start to develop that very special reader's empathy at some point, and the first sad stories of life and death and injustice described with heart will be the worst.

I recommended it. And I am ready for potential parent complaints. For that's the era I live in: the diametrical opposite of Jody's environment.
Profile Image for Swrp.
561 reviews86 followers
July 15, 2020
The Red Pony is a well-written and beautifully descriptive book about a young boy, Jody, and his life while being raised on a ranch in northern California. The stories in this classic literature covers the lessons Jody learns about life, death, ways of nature and, particularly, the ways of man.

John Steinbeck describes the life on the ranch so well and vividly. These stories appear simple at the start, but as we go further we realize that they are deep and highly meaningful.

John Steinbeck
Profile Image for Sheri.
1,089 reviews34 followers
March 17, 2022
People, places, and things play a large role in this coming-of-age tale. We see Jody deal with the harsh realities of growing up on the remote ranch with his callous, slightly formidable father, with dreams and desires in view yet just out of reach. On the other hand, while at times it all seems bleak and joyless, we also see Jody experience some of the softer moments that gladden and lift the spirit. As he learns the lessons from these people, places, and things, his hopeful and youthful optimism may be tempered, but he also gains a respect for the mature wisdom that comes with the passage of time.

There's a lot to take away from these short, interconnected stories; I wish I had been able to connect with them more.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 2 books5,414 followers
November 17, 2019
My 7yo daughter hung in there for Ch 1, but with the unexpected sad ending, she didn't wish to continue. I went on to finish the last 3 chapters which were nearly as depressing as the first one. It is beautifully written as Steinbeck usually is, but also incredibly devoid of hope. The message seems to be, outside of your family, don't get attached to anything because it will betray you or die. I felt the father character Carl Tiflin was particularly heartless and Billy Buck, the hired hand, a bit disappointing in that despite his supposed knowledge or horses and weather, he blows it nearly every time with Jody. It was unfortunate that the book stops so suddenly as well, I was left wanting to see Jody grow up a bit. Those fried eggs and hot cakes by Mrs. Tiflin do sound yummy, and it was interesting to see a slice of life from pre-war times out west.
Profile Image for Michael.
274 reviews746 followers
September 22, 2010
Next time you decide to make a printing of The Red Pony, feel free to borrow one of these free blurbs.

"Do you like people hanging around on a farm? Do you like horses and animals and stuff? Then you'll think this book is okay! It has horses, and grass, and farms and stuff, and is an easy read."

Or:

"John Steinbeck is a writer of amazing stature in American literature. He stands head and shoulders above just about anyone, wiping his feet on Faulkner, flicking Mark Twain out of his way like a little bug. He defacates on Edith Wharton's pillow, eats Henry Miller for breakfast, and he doesn't even know who Guy N. Smith is. He wrote this book."

Or:

"The epic saga of two families in the Salinas valley, and considered by Steinbeck himself to be his magnum opus, this is a novel that has changed literature, and made Steinbeck an iconic figure. Oh, wait, The Red Pony? I thought we were talking about East of Eden. I don't remember a goddamn thing about The Red Pony."

Or (SPOILERS IN THIS ONE///SPOILERS IN THIS ONE///SPOILERS IN THIS ONE):

"You call THIS The Red Pony? You got a lot of nerve. That's like changing the name of Star Wars: A New Hope to Greedo. It's like calling The Land Before Time something like Little Foot's Mom. It's like putting a picture of Drew Barrymore on the cover of the movie Scream. It doesn't make any fucking sense. What were you thinking, John?"



Profile Image for Duane.
828 reviews388 followers
May 15, 2016
I don't think I could read a Steinbeck novel by the fire with a glass of wine. No, more like on the back porch wearing old jeans and a work shirt, because you feel like you may get your jeans dirty and your boots dusty, and maybe even a little blood on your shirt. That's the power of his writing, his characters and settings; he will draw you in, even if you don't want to be. Not much fun inside a Steinbeck novel, at least the ones I've read. That kind of power is on display here in The Red Pony. When the pony bites young Jody's hand, you wince with his pain. And that's how it is with this very visual novel.

This novel is broken down into three somewhat different stories, and the red pony only appears in the first which I thought a bit odd. The other sections dwell on different topics. The novel doesn't build to a climatic ending, it descends into nostalgic introspection. I give it 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Jessaka.
853 reviews100 followers
June 27, 2019
Not As I Remembered It 66 Years Ago.

I read this as a child, and I cried. It may have been the first real novel that I had ever read, as I was actually6 into reading comic books at that age.

My brother was reading The Grapes of Wrath at that same time and was asking our mother if it were true about the dust bowl and depression and what the people went through. It was, she said.

My father had given my older brother a collection of John Steinbeck books, so the reason we chose him to read. I grew to love Steinbeck, but I am not so sure about this book now. It was just too sad for me as a child of ten or so.

I remember as a child I would lose all my dogs to death, and the baby lamb that my step dad brought home. I sat there with the lamb in my lap as it was dying, and I asked God, Why? I got no answer. A few years later I began to feel that every animal I ever loved died. And, well, they still do.

This book was not what I remember4ed, but I really had no idea what I remembered as it was too long ago. I also didn’t remember that this book was four stories. It was about Jody’s growing up years. I was glad for this, as I liked two of the other stories better. Only they were all too short. I was also glad that I did not cry this time.

I really loved the story about the old pisano, Gitano, who showed up on the ranch saying that he was born there and desired to die there.

Jody asked him questions about the mountains to the west of the farm that was situated near Salina, CA. Jody only knew that they lead to the ocean. Gitano had only adventured there once but only remembered that it was quiet.

Jody wanted to hike the mountains, and that is what I would have done since I spent my youth hiking the hills in our small town of Paso Robles, CA and going to the river with my dogs, whichever one I had at the time. Jody didn’t venture out, and I wonder if that was because he had a strict father, a father I was glad to not have had. Yet, my own father was mean, but my mom divorced when I was 8. I had free range of the town, the hills, and the river after that.

Then Jody’s grandfather came to visit, and I would have loved that story to go on as well as the one about the pisano. It was not to be. As soon as his grandfather arrived, problems broke out in the family, well, only with Jody’s dad, and it was not going to be a nice visit, except that Jody wanted to learn from him. He wanted to know about his trip out to California by wagon train, as he had been the wagaon train master.

All in all, it seemed like everything was dying around Jody, mostly by his own hands, such as horn toads, snakes, mice, etc. It left me with a feeling that I didn’t wish to hear anymore. Kids can be so cruel at times, and it made me to remember how my boyfriend (first husband) and I put a mouse in a flashlight, but when we took it out he was almost dead. I think he survived. I hate memories like that, or when we shot frogs at the river with a b-b gun. How cruel. I wonder what my mom would have said if she had known. I know if I had had kids, I would hope that I would have taught them to not harm animals.

I would not have liked farm life, unless we were just raising food crops. And it seems like the older I get the less I like harming anything unless it is poisonous snake or spider or anything that is about to harm me. But real life isn’t so easy on a person, and it certainly wasn’t easy on Jody.
Notes: I loved this when I was young, so I am keeping the 4 or 5 stars. I would only give it three stars today.
RerRead June 26, 2019



Profile Image for Anne .
428 reviews336 followers
October 24, 2020
3.5. This is such a powerful and well-written set of stories. I could taste the dust and blood of farm life depicted by Steinbeck. I went into this book blind, having read no blurbs nor reviews, expecting an uplifting story. Just look at that adorable cover. What I discovered inside this book was very different from what I expected.

Jody, our 10 year old protagonist lives on a ranch in California with his mom, dad and the ranch hand Billy. Farm life is rough. Jody lives through tragedy, disappointment and fear. There are moments of hopeful expectation and happiness but they are fleeting. For one short novella Steinbeck packs in a lot of heartbreak
Profile Image for Kerri.
950 reviews340 followers
February 5, 2022
Challenging but excellent - - a warning, if you find abuse of animals difficult to read about, this is NOT the book for you. Some are harsh but probably necessary (medical treatments in an attempt to save an animal) while others are simply cruel. It's not a few pages here and there that you could skip because you would lose too much of the already short story.

Despite finding this unexpectedly harrowing, it's become a favourite and a reminder that I must read more Steinbeck, having loved "East of Eden" and now this one too. So far I have found his writing to be thoroughly depressing yet beautiful. I have a copy of "The Grapes of Wrath" that I will probably read this year.

***My edition only has three chapters/stories, so I am on the lookout for a copy that contains the fourth!***
Profile Image for Timothy Urgest.
468 reviews258 followers
December 11, 2020
“It was a whole bunch of people made into one big crawling beast. And I was the head. It was westering and westering. Every man wanted something for himself, but the big beast that was all of them wanted only westering. I was the leader, but if I hadn’t been there, someone else would have been the head. The thing had to have a head.
“Under the little bushes the shadows were black at white noonday. When we saw the mountains at last, we cried—all of us. But it wasn’t getting here that mattered, it was movement and westering.
“We carried life out here and set it down the way those ants carry eggs. And I was the leader. The westering was as big as God, and the slow steps that made the movement piled up and piled up until the continent was crossed.
“Then we came down to the sea, and it was done.”


Life is suffering, but we must learn. The journeys of others are not our own.

What I love about Steinbeck is that his simple narrative always becomes multilayered upon its conclusion. Meanings within meanings.
Profile Image for k.wing.
669 reviews26 followers
October 28, 2007
WARNING! HORSE-LOVERS: DON'T READ THIS BECAUSE YOU THINK IT WILL BE ABOUT HORSES AND DON'T REVIEW IT SAYING THAT THAT'S WHAT YOU EXPECTED BECAUSE I JUST WARNED YOU. I am sorry if you were forced to read this book for school - it would really take the beauty out of it if someone forced you to read The Red Pony. I feel that way about all Steinbeck books actually.

It is a little difficult to get into in the beginning, but overall, this book shows the raw and unpredicible way people deal with their emotions. It is beautiful, and at times, frightening. I think people who have not been/do not know the midwest or the country well should read this book - it will be a new experience for you, and show you a different way of life.
Profile Image for Alayna.
28 reviews10 followers
December 10, 2008
I struggled to finish this book. And it has about 100 tiny little pages. I can read that in an hour or so. And yet, I struggled for at least 5 days to finish this book. In fact, the ONLY reason I forced myself to finish was so I could read the online cliff notes and try and figure out what I missed. What meaning or significance could make it worth my reading. This was not an enjoyable reading experience, to say the least - except for that baffling "you must be kidding" sentiment at the end of each short story/chapter.

Here's the thing. I've never liked Steinbeck on my first read, and this is no different. Spoiler alert - I'm going to tell you the plot and spare you reading this yourself:

Chapter 1: Boy gets pony. Pony dies.
Chapter 2: Stranger comes. Stranger takes old horse and leaves.
Chapter 3: Boy promised new pony. Difficult birth. To keep promise, mare must be killed.
Chapter 4: Grandfather comes to visit; tells same stories that everyone has heard before. Boy is considerate of Grandfather, proving his maturity.
Book Ends.

My most common reaction was "are you kidding me?!" I mean, pretty much at the end of each short story/chapter I was left saying those exact words - it just unnecessary killing off of people or things of meaning to this young boy, and then no extra explanation or reason or working it in to the broader context. Its the story of a boy growing up and and the disappointments he faces along the way, but we never learn to love or identify with him. The best character is Billy Buck (the farm worker) because we feel for him so dearly; how he doesn't want to disappoint Jody, but has to because ... life is disappointing sometimes.

So, the positive: characterization is very very well done. You get the very essence of a person from just a simple description. Excellently done. Billy Buck is a wonderful character. You get a thorough sense of the place, and time, and life on the farm, and the awkwardness between father and son then. The rural life; the virtues they appreciated then (horsemanship, hard work, etc.)

The only other thing I'll point out is that I wasn't clear if it was supposed to be 4 short stories or 4 chapters. Steinbeck seems to muddy the lines between that - the third chapter refers back to the first, but the fourth reintroduces people as if we did not know.

Time to look up some other people's analysis and so I can see if there was anything I can salvage out of this experience.
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book447 followers
September 25, 2020
Who captures the disappoint and tragedy of everyday life like Steinbeck? The Red Pony takes place on a farm (and for those of you who have never spent time on a real farm, I can tell you that life is hard and nature is cruel). The boy, Jody, is coming of age and being faced with what it is to be human, to cope with loss, to watch the death of dreams, and to do this in the shadow of a father who tolerates no sentimentality. The last section in this series of tales in Jody's life is the most poignant of all for me, because when the life of hard times is spent, there is not even any room for remembering and softening the edges of the past.

I found each of the stories within the story to be pregnant with meaning. It was so easy to see life from the different characters' points of view. Jody, as a boy, trying to sort out what life actually does mean, Billy Buck living within the family but outside it and trying to live up to the image Jody has of him and his reputation for knowing everything, the father who is trying to hold this enterprise together and make sound decisions and who must always put practical matters first, and the mother who provides the base around which the men revolve.

So much depth in so few pages! So often novellas leave me feeling cheated or wanting more because the story feels unfinished. This is not the case here. Steinbeck knows exactly what he wants to say and he knows exactly when he has said it.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,650 reviews1,486 followers
October 21, 2022
Here are four interconnected stories about a ten-year-old boy, Jody Tiflin. He lives on a ranch not far from Salinas in Monterey County, California.

As the title indicates, one story is about a red pony--given to Jody by his father. The second story is about an elderly Mexican who comes to the ranch, explains that he was born there and asks to remain until his death. This, Jody’s father refuses. The third story is again about horses—if Jody agrees to care for the neighbor’s mare, he will earn the money for the stud fee and the foal will be his. The fourth and last story is about Jody’s grandfather when he comes for a visit. I have given only the bare bones of each story.

The stories give readers a clear picture of who Jody is. A revealing picture of Jody’s father is given too. We learn also about Billy Buck, the hired hand on the ranch. He’s a great character. He knows everything one needs to know about horses. We are told his mother died in childbirth and so he was “raised on mares’ milk.” He serves as a contrast to Jody’s father. Character portrayal is an essential element of the book.

While this is a tale about a young boy, it is not a child’s book. Adolescents and adults will appreciate the book. The stories about the horses are grim, not light reading.

Steinbeck’s writing is simple and clear, strong and powerful. He describes equally well people and landscapes. The writing is reason enough to pick up the book.

Frank Muller narrates the audiobook well. Every word spoken is clear. He has a tendency to draw out the ending of sentences, which I find annoying. It is though, a minor complaint. The narration I have given three stars.

The book’s main focus is not the pony--it is Jody, his relationship with others and his ability to feel compassion. The book is short; my one complaint might be that I wish it were longer.

************************
Steinbeck’s books in order of preference :
*Of Mice and Men 5 stars
*The Grapes of Wrath 5 stars
*In Dubious Battle 4 stars
*The Wayward Bus 4 stars
*Travels with Charley: In Search of America 4 stars
*The Moon Is Down 4 stars
*The Pastures of Heaven 4 stars
*The Red Pony 4 stars
*Cannery Row 4 stars
*Once There Was a War 3 stars
*The Winter of Our Discontent 3 stars
*A Russian Journal 3 stars
*The Pearl 3 stars
*Sweet Thursday 2 stars
*To a God Unknown 2 stars
*East of Eden 2 stars
*America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction TBR
Profile Image for Jenny.
146 reviews52 followers
September 22, 2016
"Να το αλογάκι σου.Στο υποσχέθηκα.Να'το, λοιπόν.Έπρεπε να το κάνω,έπρεπε."

Μέχρι τώρα δεν έχω καταφέρω να γυρίσω την τελευταία σελίδα βιβλίου του Steinbeck με στεγνά μάτια.

Ήθελα να διαβάσω το "Κόκκινο Αλογάκι" από τότε που διάβασα για πρώτη φορά τη Ματίλντα ,όπου υπάρχει μια σκηνή με τον πατέρα της να σκίζει το βιβλίο και να το αποκαλεί "σκουπίδι".Διαβάζοντάς το λοιπόν,τόσα χρόνια μετά,αισθάνομαι ότι ξεπληρώνω κάποιο παιδικό μου χρέος(όσο κουτό κι αν ακούγεται)!

4 ιστορίες με πρωταγωνιστή τον μικρό Τζόντυ και τη ζωή του στο ράντσο.4 θλιβερές ιστορίες,γεμάτες με σκληρές αλήθειες για τη ζωή,τους ανθρώπους και τη φύση.Η ικανότητα του Steinbeck να προκαλεί τόσο μεγάλη θλίψη,που φτάνει μέχρι την ψυχή,χωρίς να χρησιμοποιεί μελό συναισθηματισμούς,είναι ένας από τους λόγους που τον θαυμάζω τόσο πολύ.Πέρα από το να δημιουργούν κόμπους στεναχώριας στο στομάχι,οι ιστορίες αυτές "ζωγραφίζουν" τη ζωή εκείνης της εποχής στα ράντσα και μεταφέρουν τον αναγνώστη στην Αμερική των αρχών του εικοστού αιώνα,δημιουργώντας μια περίεργη νοσταλγία για έναν τρόπο ζωής που ούτε ζηλευτός είναι,ούτε σχέση έχει με το δικό μας παρελθόν.

Η εικονογράφηση πανέμορφη και πολύ ταιριαστή.

4,5 αστεράκια και το προτείνω σε όλους!

"Μακάρι να'χε ζήσει κι αυτός στα ηρωικά χρόνια, μα ήξερε πως δεν ήταν φτιαγμένος από ηρωική στόφα."
Profile Image for The Bibliophile Doctor.
414 reviews178 followers
November 3, 2022
I read "of mice and men" of John Steinbeck long time back. I immediately fell in love with him & I never stopped after that.

I pick up a book of John's once in while. What is so special about John, you might ask? John wrote beautiful tragedies. Heart wrenching, goose-bumping & tear jerking tragedies & I'm a sucker for tragedies. Big time.

John won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his realistic & imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor & keen social perception."

Coming to the book- The Red Pony is story of a young boy Jody & his pony Giblan & life on the ranch. I won't go much into the storyline but Let's just say that it isn't all rainbows and unicorns (well in this case pony) in Jody's life.

John's writing is so vivid & pragmatic that you can imagine yourself with the characters- Becoming a part of their lives - living their life on ranch, experiencing their pain & joy, hurt & happiness yourself.

If you have read any John Steinbeck books, you will know John's worlds in the books are painfully "Real"- cruel and brutal. There is death, betrayal, sadness and bitterness. John in his crystal clear prose shows the world to us in its naked gory reality. He shows mirror to the world through his stories leaving it bare.

I'm not going to sugarcoat anything, this one like all the other works of John has the mishap, the cataclysm as the center theme. Red pony is about a boy who learns to grow up through his loss, exploring a bond shared between a man & nature with complexity of it.

Yes I would still recommend it, coz even though there are two sides to this world both beautiful and ugly, sometimes facing the dark ugly side of the world is the option you need to choose.

“It would be a dreadful thing to tell anyone about it, for it would destroy some fragile structure of truth. It was truth that might be shattered by division.”
Profile Image for Lisa Bodin.
4 reviews
September 11, 2007
I love this book. It's short, succinct, and encapsulates the dramatic, but realistic suffering side of life in three ways: the red pony, the black colt, and Jody's relationship with adults.

The Red Pony's also peppered with moments of human courage, brilliance and love. Jody's devotion to the red pony is sweet, and his idolization of Billy Buck is, I think, a realistic representation of how boys look up to men.
Profile Image for Nikos Tsentemeidis.
400 reviews199 followers
July 2, 2017
Μπορεί η ιστορία να μην ήταν κάτι το ιδιαίτερο, αλλά ο Steinbeck έχει ένα ξεχωριστό ταλέντο στο να αφηγείται και να δημιουργεί σκηνικά πολύ οικεία στον αναγνώστη.
Profile Image for Trevor.
65 reviews7 followers
May 7, 2018
I was feeling really conflicted about this novel until the last quarter, when I started to understood the scope of what Steinbeck was trying to say.

On the surface, the story is simply a look into the life of a young boy growing up on a farm. Underneath however is the angst of an entire generation; a generation that felt they could never live up to the legendary exploits of their elders, who had ultimately fulfilled manifest destiny.

And then comes another disquiet - what else was left for them to explore? Everything had been mapped and settled. Every place had at least a thin semblance of civilization. It was their great sorrow to not have a societal mandate of their own, some great expression of the human spirit meant for their age.

I think that is why the novel resonates. If they were already feeling this way a hundred years ago, maybe it helps to explain why people feel the way they do now. In the age of the internet and cell phones and social media we see that it's all been done before. Where in the world can we go that we could not find a hundred pictures of online with a little cursory searching? It is a sobering realization at best. It also explains why Science Fiction and Fantasy are now such immensely popular genres.
Profile Image for fคrຊคຖ.tຖ.
251 reviews62 followers
June 7, 2019
این کتاب شامل چهار داستان کوتاه از زندگی پسربچه‌ای روستایی به اسم جودی هست. دو داستانش درباره اسب‌هاست که حیوان مورد علاقمه 🙂 متاسفانه هر دو داستان هم غمگین هستند 😔 و دو داستان هم درباره پیرمردهاست (یکیش پیرمرد مکزیکی غریبه‌ای که به خونشون میاد و یکیش هم پدربزرگ جودی که برای دیدنشون میاد). و بازم قصه‌گویی اشتاین بکو دوست داشتم 😍
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,089 reviews7,946 followers
December 24, 2021
Steinbeck is best when writing about the land. He’s able to imbue so much meaning and feeling into his depictions of nature.

This short collection of stories, all following a young boy growing up on a farm in the Salinas Valley, is quintessential Steinbeck. The morality tales bring Jody up against themes of death, aging, and the complications of living. It’s a simple set of four stories told across a few years of this young boy’s life and highlights Steinbeck’s astute observations on humanity.

All four stories felt fairly similar to me and while I enjoyed the reading experience, these don’t leave as much to ponder as his other work.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,024 followers
January 5, 2017
I hated this book when I was required to read it, and as it was I remember reading it alone in the library in 7th grade and writing a paper because the class was reading a book I had already read. Suffice to say I'm enjoying Steinbeck more now.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,121 followers
December 8, 2014
Well.....this Steinbeck classic was not at all what I was expecting. It depicts the dark side of ranch life and the dreadful way animals are treated, sometimes out of necessity (but still hard to stomach) and other times out of down right meanness and cruelty.

I did not care for father Carl or his young son Jody (at times) and felt sorry for horses, dogs, cats, birds, the old lonely wandering man Gitano coming home to die, and the treatment of Jody's aging grandfather.

Of course, the purpose behind this story is to show the many tough lessons of life young Jody has yet to learn as he comes of age, but from my perspective, I'm sorry to say, this novel was pretty much a downer from start to finish with only a few enjoyable moments interspersed. Only 100 pages, but a long discomforting read. (especially if you're an animal lover)

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