© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Red Pony

The Red Pony


by John Steinbeck

The Red Pony Summary

How It All Goes Down

The scene? A California ranch in the 1930s. The book's plot can be summarized using the highly intelligent and never questioned "Boy meets X" analysis. Not familiar? Give it a minute; you'll catch on real quick.

It's like this, see:

Boy meets pony, boy loves pony, boy takes care of pony, boy worries over pony constantly, boy does not go to meteorology school, boy puts faith in ranch hand's ability to predict sunny skies, pony gets soaked by rain, boy witnesses slow and tragic death of beloved pony, reader bawls his or her eyes out, boy brutally murders a buzzard.

Here's where things get interesting.

An old Mexican comes strolling in and refuses to leave for a while. But then he does leave, and he steals an old horse while he's at it. The boy's father is unfazed as old Mexican rides off into the Gabilan Mountains (presumably to die).

And then…

Boy—okay, okay, his name is Jody—is promised a new colt. Yippee ki-yay. Jody brings a mare to a neighboring ranch, where it has some special time with a stud horse. One thing leads to another, and bam! the mare's preggers. Jody's pumped because he's finally gonna get a new colt. He worries about the mare for months, and as her due date approaches, a problem becomes apparent: the colt is twisted around inside the mare. So Billy, a ranch hand, has to kill the mare in order to save the colt, which he cuts out of her. Yep, it's gross. Jody is, understandably, traumatized, but hey, at least the colt's okay. The word bittersweet is defined in raw form.

And then…

Jody's maternal Grandfather visits the ranch. The Grandfather talks and talks and talks and talks and yes, even yaks some more until Jody's old man jumps in and insults ol' g-pa. Gramps is humbled and saddened, which prompts Papa to feel really, really bad. Suddenly, Jody realizes that his old man is fallible, and he tries to cheer up Gramps by making him some lemonade.

And then…

Actually, that's it.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...