The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
It had been a long time since I read any of John Steinbeck’s work, although I remember with great fondness being taken to Cannery Row in Monterey, California, USA when I visited my Aunt and Uncle, 40 years ago, at their home in 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach. I thought it was so exciting that there was such a place as Cannery Row. So when my mother recently gave me a collection of John Steinbeck novels, I decided to read The Red Pony first. It was a book I had not read but was by an author I hold in great esteem.
John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was an American author of twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories. He was born in Salinas, California, USA on 26 February, 1902 and died on 20 December, 1968 in New York City, New York State, USA. He was educated at Salinas High School and Stanford University, California.
The Red Pony is an episodic novella written by John Steinbeck in 1933. It tells of a school boy, Jody, who was raised on a ranch in northern California. He is well-schooled in the hard work and demands of a rancher’s life. Jody is used to the way of horses, too; but nothing has prepared him for the special connection he will forge with Gabilan, a hot-tempered pony his father gives him. Billy Buck, the hired hand, helps Jody tend and train the pony. Jody restlessly anticipates the moment he will sit high upon Gabilan’s saddle. But when Gabilan falls ill, Jody discovers there are still lessons he must learn about the ways of nature and, particularly, the ways of man.
The Red Pony reads like a collection of related short stories. It definitely does not feel like a complete novel with a plot, climax and satisfying finish. However, it paints a picture of early life on a ranch in California back in the day and, as with all John Steinbeck’s work, has as much going on beneath the surface as on the page.