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The Red Pony

The Red Pony

by John Steinbeck

The Red Pony Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Why is the book in four parts? What effect does each ending and new beginning have on the novella? What happens in between sections? How does each stage change Jody?
  2. Is what happens to the red pony Billy's fault? Is it Jody's? Is it Fate's? Who, if anyone, is to blame?
  3. At certain moments, Jody has very violent tendencies. Why do you think that is? Is it pure cruelty? Or does he have a good excuse?
  4. Are there similarities between Gitano in "The Great Mountains" and the Grandfather in "The Leader of the People"? What are they? How are they different?
  5. The final chapter, "The Leader of the People", was not included in the first publication of the novel. It was added to subsequent editions, starting in 1945 (nine years after the book's initial print run). What do you think the final chapter adds? What would the book be like without it?
  6. Do you think Carl Tiflin is a good dad? Why or why not? And is Ruth Tiflin a good mom?
  7. What do you imagine Jody will grow up to be? Is he going to be a rancher like his pop? Or do you think he has something else in mind?
  8. How does the death of the red pony affect Jody? What about the mare's death? Do these deaths affect Jody's relationship with Billy in any way? How so?
  9. What do you make of the ending? Is it hopeful? Hopeless? How so?

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