Writing Services


A+ Writing Service

Custom Essay Writing Services Custom Essay Writing Services

Custom Essay Writing Services
The Red Pony
The Red Pony by John Steinbeck is a book filled with archetypes and lessons. They can help readers identify hidden truths in books and sometimes even end up teaching them lessons. John Steinbeck uses archetypes skillfully to parallel the everyday lives of people. The Red Pony is filled with complex archetypes and symbolic events which are experienced by Jody, the main character of the book. He is a ten year old boy living on a ranch with his parents and a farmhand named Billy Buck. The archetypal patterns that his life goes through range from the number 2 to the life cycle to the loss of innocence. The Red Pony itself is divided into four very different books, each of which are surprisingly independent of each other. The character of Jody, in The Red Pony, experiences a separate event in each books that results in a loss of innocence, and in turn gains knowledge and matures over time.

Jody experiences two losses of innocence in the first book of the Red Pony when he learns of human imperfection and when he is personally affected by death for the first time. At the beginning, Jody receives a red pony from his father, Carl, and cares for it all summer with the help of Billy Buck. He reveres Billy because of his knowledge of caring for and training the pony and is ready to do whatever he says so that one day he may have his own horse to ride. Billy . . . told Jody a great many things about horses (14). For example, He explained that they were terribly afraid for their feet, so that one must make a practice of lifting the legs and patting the hoofs and ankles to remove their terror (14). This shows that Billy knows a lot about horses and therefore Jody is very willing to trust Billy, even with his pony s life. One day, deep in autumn, Jody has misgivings about possible rain and tells his feelings to Billy, who reassures him that it won t rain. Because of this reassurance, Jody leaves the red pony standing out in the corral. Jody trusts and respects Billy because of his knowledge and experience. He thinks that Billy is infallible. However, he realizes that Billy made a mistake when the rain comes down when he is at school. Billy Buck wasn t wrong about many things. . . But he was wrong about the weather for that day, for a little after noon the clouds pushed over the hills and the rain began to pour down (22). Because of the downpour, the red pony falls ill and despite all of Billy s treatment and effort, it dies. Jody comes to the horrific realization that Billy is fallible. Before, Jody viewed Billy as perfect, but he now knows that Billy made a mistake and the pony is dead because of it. Jody is angered at Billy for this reason; he never expected this to happen. He look reproachfully at Billy Buck and Billy felt guilty. . . He had no right to be fallible, and he knew it (23). The understanding that Billy makes mistakes gives Jody the knowledge that Billy is not perfect. This is a loss of innocence for Jody, because he didn t know that it was possible for a wise grown-up to make such a huge and fatal mistake.

Jody experiences another loss of innocence in book one when he feels death on a personal basis for the first time in his young life. In the beginning of the first book, he sees black buzzards flying about the area because of newly dead animals, and he acknowledges it with no emotion or personal reaction. Over the hillside two big black buzzards sailed low to the ground and their shadows slipped smoothly and quickly ahead of them. Some animal had died in the vicinity. Jody knew it (4-5). But when they finally surround his red pony at the moment of its death, he becomes furious and lashes out in rage against them, even killing one in the frustration of the red pony s demise. He struck again and again, until the buzzard lay dead, until its head was red pulp. He was still beating the dead bird . . . (37). Before, death was something he didn t care about, something that didn t interest him, just something that happened to things he didn t know. This personal experience with death makes him realize that death can happen around him too. Thus, his final realization is that death can happen unnaturally and suddenly to anyone, even a vitality-filled, youthful, red pony.

Although Jody experiences death in book one, he knows of it only as an accident and that it only happens when people make mistakes. Book two in The Red Pony reveals the inevitability of death and the dying of old ways to Jody which makes his loss of innocence suffered in book one far greater. At the beginning, Jody is back to his usual 10 year old self. He finds a bird and kills it for no real reason except to just do it. He mutilates it and then buries it out of guilt, not because he feels sorry for killing it but because other people might frown upon his act. He didn t care about the bird, or its life, but he knew what other people would say if they had seen him kill it; he was ashamed of their potential opinion (40). Although he had learned of death earlier, he still doesn t value life because he thinks death is just an accident. Later in this book, an old stranger named Gitano stumbles upon the Tiflin ranch. He is a very old man, which excites Jody because he feels this old man has experienced much and may even know the secrets of the uncivilized wilderness of the Great Mountains. Jody is fascinated by the Great Mountains which are uncivilized and wild and wants to know what lays over there. Jody learns that Gitano was born near the Great Mountains and went there once with his father but then crossed over to the Gabilan mountains and the Salinas valley where he lived much of his life. . . . they were jolly mountains, with hill ranches in their creases, and with pine trees growing on the crests. People lived there. . . (42) This shows that the Gabilan Mountains, in contrast with the Great Mountains, are full of life and civilization. Jody discovers next that Gitano is now returning back home to his roots which he recognizes as the Tiflin ranch. Carl refuses to take him in though and tells him to be off to live with his relatives. Thus Gitano winds up taking Carl s oldest horse, Old Easter, with him as he journeys back to the Great Mountains to die. The night before his departure, Jody stumbles into his room unexpectedly and catches Gitano admiring a shiny rapier, despite his efforts to quickly hide it from Jody. Gitano tells Jody that the rapier was passed down from his father to him, probably in their lone trip to the Great Mountains where his father died. Gitano is now doing the very same thing because he is going to the Great Mountains to die too. However, he has nobody to pass it on too so he understands that the tradition must die with him. He doesn t want anybody to know about the rapier because it is a tradition within his family and must die with it. Jody realizes this and understands that he is not supposed to know about the rapier. Jody knew one thing more sharply than he had ever known anything. He must never tell anyone about the rapier. It would be a dreadful thing to tell anyone about it, for it would destroy some fragile structure of truth (53). The truth that Jody discovers is that old ways must always come to an end, like the tradition of the rapier. He is not supposed to know about it because it is supposed to die out of existence. He knows it would be a dreadful thing to tell anyone about it because it would nullify this truth , that old ways must die. The knowledge that Gitano and his old ways are both to die...
The rest of the paper is available free of charge to our registered users. The registration process just couldn't be easier. Log in or register now. It is all free!
You should cite this paper as follows:

MLA Style
The Red Pony. EssayMania.com. Retrieved on 12 Oct, 2010 from