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The Red Pony

The Red Pony


by John Steinbeck

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

Ah, The Red Pony. A simple story of a boy and his pet and how they live happily ever after.

Oh wait. That can't be right.

With a title like The Red Pony you might expect to read a typical story of a boy learning to love a horse. When kiddos dream of having ponies, they dream of fun rides off into the sunset. They don't dream of all the hard work having a pony requires. And they certainly don't imagine an untimely death.

But that's what we get in The Red Pony. As soon as we dive headfirst into the story, we realize that this isn't your run-of-the-mill story. This is no nostalgic puff piece. There will be blood. And hey, maybe that's why the pony's red.

The weird thing is, that red pony only appears in the first part. For the rest of the three sections, the pony's nothing but a distant memory. It's barely even mentioned. So what gives?

Well, we think that red pony is still fresh in this kid's mind. His experience with Gabilan colors all of Jody's experiences afterwards. He's a changed kid, and there's only more tough stuff coming down the pike. So after we read the first part, and think about the fact that the whole book is called The Red Pony, we realize that this book is about the sense of loss that comes with growing older, and not the innocent joys of kid-dom.

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