The Red Pony
How we cite our quotes:
The pony's tracks were plain enough, dragging through the frostlike dew on the young grass, tired tracks with little lines between them where the hoofs had dragged. … At the top of the ridge, Jody was winded. He paused, puffing noisily. The blood pounded in his ears. Then he saw what he was looking for. Below, in one of the little clearings in the brush lay the red pony. (1.182-1.183)
This happens a lot with animals. When they know they are close to death, they tend to wander away and die on their own. It's awfully sad and lonely to think about, but that's just the way it goes sometimes. Jody probably would have given anything to be with Gabilan during his final moments but the horse had different plans. Oh woe is Jody.
Then the beak opened and vomited a stream of putrefied fluid. Jody brought up his knee and fell on the great bird. He held the neck to the ground with one hand while his other found a piece of sharp white quartz. (1.184)
To be fair, it's not the buzzard's fault that Gabilan has died. But in this passionate moment, Jody just doesn't give a hoot. He's mad (and sad), and he has to take it out on someone—anyone. The poor buzzard's just unlucky enough to step into the line of fire.
Carl Tiflin wiped the blood from the boy's face with a red bandana. Jody was limp and quiet now. His father moved the buzzard with his toe. "Jody," he explained, "the buzzard didn't kill the pony, don't you know that?"
"I know it," Jody said wearily. (1.185-1.186)
Of course he knows it, Carl, ya nincompoop. In fact, that's exactly what Billy screams at him next. Carl seems a little desensitized to death here, probably because he's seen his fair share of it, running the ranch for so many years. But this is Jody's first experience with it, so Carl will have to indulge a freak out or two.