The Red Pony
How we cite our quotes:
Billy Buck sat down on the steps, because he was a cow-hand, and it wouldn't be fitting that he should go first into the dining-room. (1.1)
Right off the bat we understand that Billy is an outsider to the family and there are certain unwritten rules he must obey. Carl Tiflin runs a tight ship and Billy respects his law and order.
His father was a disciplinarian. Jody obeyed him in everything without questions of any kind. (1.7)
Carl's kind of old school, huh? These days, we might think of him as too gruff and distant, but back then, this is probably the only way he knows how to be a dad.
Back at the house his mother bent over his rough hands, inspecting his fingers and nails. It did little good to start him clean to school for too many things could happen on the way. She sighed over the black cracks on his fingers, and then gave him his books and his lunch and started him on the mile walk to school. (1.16)
What's a mother to do? Mrs. Tiflin isn't much of the motherly type in that she doesn't fawn over Jody or smother him with kisses and affection. But she does what she can with their less-than-clean surroundings.