The Red Pony
by John Steinbeck
The Red Pony Theme of Family
Growing up Tiflin is not easy. But just like everyone else on this rock, Jody can't choose his parents. In The Red Pony, he's got a hardworking dad, a dutiful mom, and a skilled ranch hand to look up to. But they're all far from perfect. Carl can be tough-minded and cruel; Ruth wavers between strong homemaker and weak daughter. And Billy makes a mistake that alters the course of Jody's life forever. Family, Jody learns, is fallible.
Questions About Family
- Why do you think Carl Tiflin is the way he is? Is he too gruff for your taste, or do you think he's a good dad?
- Where's Gitano's family? Why might he want to come back to the ranch to die with strangers, so to speak?
- Is Billy part of the family? Or just an employee through and through?
Chew on This
If Carl had been a better dad to the boy, Jody would have taken Gabilan's death a lot better than he did.
The only person who comes remotely close to giving Jody a comfortable sense of family is Billy Buck.