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John Steinbeck

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“The Red Pony” by John Steinbeck – Critical Analysis
John Steinbeck an American writer was born in the year 1902 and died in the year 1968.During his time, Steinbeck was one of the most accomplished writers and his literary works received massive popularity. Most of his novels and short stories were performed as plays on stage and that is one reason why he was among the best sellers during his era. One of his great accomplishments for his involvement in literature was the Literature Nobel Prize he won in 1962. Steinbeck wrote a total of twenty seven books and some of his most common books include; “The grapes of Wrath” written in 1939, the 1952 “East of Eden, The 1937 short novel “Mice and men” (John, pg 23). John Steinbeck spent much of his early life in a rural part of America and worked on various ranches with migrants ‘on spreckler ranch and other nearby ranches during his summers. He attended Salinas high school and later joined Stanford University, although he never graduated. He did various odd jobs before beginning his career as a writer.
Steinbeck wrote his first novel Cup of Gold which was published in 1929.Other books he wrote were; the pastures of heaven (1932), The Red Pony (1933), Tortilla Flat (1935), The Grapes of Wrath (1939), and many others. During his career, Stein beck was involved in various issues and correspondence. Most of his literary works revolved around his life as well as the issues that affected people then (John, pg 56). One of the issues he wrote about was the 2nd world war in which he served as a war correspondent. His 1942 novel, “the moon is down” was based on the 2nd World War. The story was believed to talk about the Nazis occupation of Norway. This book earned him an award because of his contribution through literature on the resistance movement of Norway. Steinbeck grew in Salinas valley in California, an area that had many immigrants leading to a diverse culture. This area where lived were mostly the settings of his stories. Some of his literary works however drew a lot of controversies. His political views of which he portrayed in the novel “the Grapes of Wrath” were a major source of controversy (Steinbeck, pg 45). Critics said that his political views on the book were misrepresentations of the country and also stated that the book had obscene content. His views were on Capitalism, sympathy for worker’s conditions as well as his political views that had negative portrayal of the country.
The story “The Red Pony” is about young immature boy who experiences the realities of life. The story brings out the emotional feelings to readers especially feelings of sorrow, futility, and rage. The book may appear to be a children’s story but it otherwise has an in-depth application and scope. The story revolves around a ten year old boy Jody Tiflin. From the book, the main character Tiflin is not a “polite” boy (Steinbeck, pg 45). One day Jody gets a big surprise. The big surprise is a Gift that the Father has presented to, him, A Red Pony. He names the Pony Galiban, a name he derives from the nearby mountain range referred by the same name. Jody’s attachment to Galiban grows as he treats the pony well. Jody trains Galiban a number of important lessons a he also learn, from the bridle to the saddle. Unfortunately, Galiban becomes sick and despite efforts to treat the pony, his health gets worse. Jody decides to sleep in the stable at night with his sick pony. Jody wakes up to find Galiban missing, he follows the trails of the pony, but he finds the pony dead and buzzards already feasting on it. Jody hits one of the buzzards with a stick and kills it. His father and Billy Buck arrive at that scene and pull him from the dead Buzzard. The father tells him that it’s not the buzzard that killed the Pony, Billy Buck stands up for Jody and tells him that even Jesus Christ is not happy about Galiban’s death. In this chapter, Jody loses trust in Billy buck his horseman and the love for his father because of the death of his pony Galiban. Billy told Jody that Galiban would be fine when it was rained on but it later died and that is why he lost trust in Billy Buck. However Billy is more of a father to Jody than his actual father. Unlike Billy Buck, the father gets embarrassed quickly at Jody and does not know how to behave around him. This is evident from this passage. “Carl Tiflin went out of the barn and walked up a side -hill to be by himself, for he was embarrassed, but Billy Bucks stayed. It was easier to talk to Billy Buck”. (Critical Analysis: “The Red Pony,” by John Steinbeck) From the chapter, we again learn that Jody cares so much about the Opinions of his father that he finds it so difficult to talk to his father (Steinbeck, pg 56). It is instead Billy Buck who takes him through lessons like horse riding. Billy Bucks is a gain seen to stand by Jody when Galiban dies.
The Second chapter “Great Mountains” shows Jody back to his usual behavior of cruelty and disobedience. He throws blocks to break open sparrow nests, kills a small song bird and tortures the dog. These actions are due to the frustrations caused by the death of his pony. Unlike the first chapter where there was a friendly mountain that Jody named his pony after, in this chapter we are introduced to a rather strange mountain. Buck tells Jody that the mountains are un-explored but Jody has a mixed feeling about the mountains. He feels that the mountains are both wonderful and frightening. We are again introduced to an old man Gitano who wants to live in the farm. He claims that he used to live in the farm earlier and it is where he wants to spend the rest of his life. Carl Tiflin however protests saying he does not want another hand especially one that can’t work very hard (John, 56). Jody’s mother and Buck try to defend Gitano but Carl is unmoved. There is a parallel comparison between Gitano and an old horse that Carl does not want to kill. In Steinbeck’s opinion, there is no need of Carl keeping an old horse that does not help him the same way he thinks that Gitano would be of no importance in the farm. Gitano steal s the old horse ester and runs away with it to the mysterious mountains. In this chapter we again see Jody’s reaction when the horse is stolen.”A longing caresses him, and it was so sharp that he wanted to cry to get it out of his breast. He lay down in the green grass near the round tub at the brush line. He covered his eyes with his crossed arms and lay there a long time, and he was full of nameless sorrow”. (Steinbeck, Pg 123) From this chapter, Jody appears an immature child who does not know how to react.Heis often filled with sorrow and rage when faced with a small issue.
In the third chapter “The Promise”, Jody gets another horse, but unlike in the first chapter where he bought a grown pony he is expected to get a young pony which he will raise. Billy Buck sees this as a good idea and what is best for Jody “the best way for Jody to be a good hand with horses is to raise a pony” (Steinbeck, Pg 78). The news of getting a new house once again makes Jody a mature boy he gets more responsible and does not play tricks on his mother. A problem occurs when the pony is about to be delivered. They realize that the colt is twisted and cannot easily come out. The birth of the colt however occurs after Billy kills the mother Nellie and operates it to remove the colt. Jody is happy to get the colt but he rather afraid of the colt given the conditions it came to life. The colt is a black stallion and it is therefore named black demon. Billy did what he did because he did not want to fail his promise once again to Jody. He however seems to blame the death of the mare- Nelly on Jody.
The fourth chapter- The leader of the people Jody does not get enough satisfaction from the young colt and therefore returns to his disobedentacts.ths time he throws rocks at the cat and scuffs his shoes purposefully. The man theme of the chapter is Jody’s father mother and Grandfather’s (his mother’s father) arrival. Jody’s father Carl Tiflin complains so much about grandfather. He says he does not like grandfather because he keeps repeating himself. He complains that grandfather always repeats the story about westering which he was once involved in. Carl thinks that that time is done and should d not be talked about. Grandfather walks in from the kitchen door. It is evident that he has had what Carl was saying. He looks disappointed and Jody offers to make him lemonade to appease him.
In “The Red Pony” Steinbeck employs incompletion. Just like n many of his books the stories fail to have a happy ending. For instance this story ends with a disappointed grandfather (John, Pg 92). Jody also do not mature we still see him disobedient and one who does not know how to control his emotions he beats up the bird, the dog, cat and even the rats due to frustrations. The story also had a sad ending for Nelie the mare as well as Billy who felt bad about the mere’s death. Galiban’s death was also a sad ending.
“Mice and Men” just like in “The Red Pony”, and other Steinbeck’s books, the characters get trapped in a bait of circumstances that decide their fates however realistic the characters are. (Michael J. Meyer, "The Essential Criticism of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.").According to Moore (1939) Steinbeck’s work represents an integral part of Naturalist movement in America in which individuals had little say or the ability to impact changes in their lifestyles. He further says that the book depicts violence without tragedy, and that this trait makes the message passed from the book melodramatic instead of eliciting pathos (John, pg 67).
“The Grapes of Wrath” is one of Steinbeck’s works thought by many critics to have universality of its themes. It is however criticized on the grounds that it is excessively sentimental and melodramatic. The book also caused a lot of political controversy due to castigation of then government system and agribusiness (Steinbeck, pg 34). The press and politicians discredited it and accused Steinbeck of social sympathies.
“Travels with Charley: In Search of America” the book is thought by many critics to have lot of fiction. According to Jay parini (New York Times) to some degree, this story is a work of fiction. Steinberg shaped events and massaged them. But he however thin k that there is lot of authenticity in the book (John, pg 87). Bill Barich (Long Way Home: On the Trail of Steinbeck’s America) also thinks that the book was largely made up. He says that by that time, Steinbeck was so sick and did not actually make the trip. He however thinks that Steinbeck’s perception about death of localism, trashing of environment and growing homogeneity of America was true.

Works Cited
John Steinbeck. The red pony. John Steinbeck. London: Puffin books. 2010. Pgs 128 Print
John Steinbeck. Travels with Charley in Search of America: (Contennial edition). New York: Penguin. 2002. Pgs 224 Print
John Steinbeck. The grapes of wrath (Penguin classics). Chicago: Penguin classics. 2006. Pgs 464
John Steinbeck. Cup of gold; A life of sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer, With occasional reference to history. New York: Rutledge. 2001. Pgs 134 Print
John Steinbeck. The grapes of wrath (Penguin Classics). New Jersey: Penguin classics. 2006. Pgs 464 Print

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