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The Red Pony': Jody’s Life Changes in a Book

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John Steinbeck’s book, The Red Pony, is a 4 part coming-of-age novella that centers around a young boy name Jody Tiflin. On the Tiflin Ranch Jody lives with his mom Ruth Tiflin, his dad Carl Tiflin, and Billy Buck, his father’s worker. Jody faces different challenges and important lessons that will help him grow as a person to be the best as he can. Some important lessons Jody will face will be acts of maturity in responsibility and experiences of life. This will help Jody realize that life can’t be taken for granted and we are sometimes responsible for that.

In the first novella, The Gift, Jody is given a challenge of responsibility. That is when Carl trusted in Jody to take care of, and train a red pony that Jody later named Gabilan. Jody took responsibility in training Gabilan, and this also could have shown him the responsibility of caring for another life. That goes for saying when in the book it said, “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.” Jody had put all his trust all on Billy Buck when he shouldn’t have put all that responsibility onto him for Gabilan. He blaming Billy Buck for his horse, who eventually gets strangles and die was childish and irresponsible. Although, this did help Jody learn from his mistakes in showing him that he should not fully trust others and what they say because everyone is human, and we make mistakes. This experience showed Jody that he should be responsible and take blame for our mistakes instead of blaming others.

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Jody learns about life through many ways, but I think most evident event was when Gabilan died and Nellie, the horse that bore Jody’s future colt, had passed away. Jody was given a responsibility to care for both horses, but even when everything seemed good life happens and things die. Life is so fragile and we forget that sometimes, like how Jody did. Throughout the book Jody seems to not care about some animals, he had a strange hobby of hurting them. In the third novella, The Promise, during Nellie’s labor, Billy Buck made a promise with Jody beforehand that he will do whatever he can to ensure Jody’s colt lives. But when faced a decision to either let both mother and colt die or to save the colt and let the mother die, it was an easy decision. Jody is given yet another colt to care for, but for the price of Nellie’s death. One of the passages in the book says, “Then Jody turned and trotted out of the barn and into the dawn. He ached from his throat to his stomach. His legs were stiff and heavy. He tried to be glad because of the colt, but the bloody face, and the haunted, tired eyes of Billy buck hung in the air ahead of him.” Jody is grateful for his new colt, but Jody also realizes the cruel fate of life and how fragile death can be.

As the book goes on, Jody learns and experiences different challenges that help make him grow with more responsibility and with maturity. In the Leader of the People, the last novella, you see that Jody has come a long way since the beginning of the book. He has a dream of becoming a leader to people just like how his grandpa was. In the last scene of the book being him get a glass of lemonade for his grandfather. This might seem as just a regular kind act, but how his mother reacted showed us otherwise. Jody was probably the type of person to only care for himself, but him getting his grandfather a glass of lemonade showed a more selfless act. This can represent that Jody has matured more and thought of others than himself.

At the start of the book Jody starts off as somewhat responsible kid as we can see him doing his chores, but yet he is still that young, curious, gullible little boy. Throughout the book we get to see Jody face many life changing moments that would help shape him into the boy we see at the end of the book. Jody realizes how precious life can be and how easily it can be taken away. Also, he’s put through scenarios where Jody has to responsible, like when Jody was left to care for Gabilan. This can also be a symbol of responsibility towards life. The Red Pony, a coming-ofage book really depicts all the struggles and failures that Jody goes through to become a stronger person.

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The Red Pony’: Jody’s Life Changes in a Book. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from
“The Red Pony’: Jody’s Life Changes in a Book.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
The Red Pony’: Jody’s Life Changes in a Book. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
The Red Pony’: Jody’s Life Changes in a Book [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from:
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