John Steinbeck is an American author who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1962. The only thing I know about Steinbeck is that he writes sad stories and I really had to go out of my comfort zone to pick up something written by him.
I’m glad I chose a short book rather than some of his bigger books, like East of Eden. This Penguin edition of “The Red Pony” had almost 90 pages in it, divided into four chapters.
Each chapter signifies an important event that happened in the life of a ten-year-old boy in California in the 1930s.
His name is Jody Tiflin and he lives with his parents in a ranch. To be honest, I struggled with the language in the book because there is a lot of terminology about animals and farms.
The first chapter is called the gift, which is this red pony which Jody receives from his father. He absolutely loves it and is really happy to have a pony for himself.
The second chapter, the great mountains, bothered me, as an unseemly part of Jody’s character came through. We see this ten-year-old boy torturing animals around the ranch just because he is bored.
A better chapter to read is the third one, the promise. In this chapter one of the mares on the ranch is pregnant and there are certain complications in childbirth. Jody sees these complications while the mare is giving birth and that is very disturbing for him.
In the last chapter of the book, the leader of the people, Jody’s grandfather comes to visit them. This was one of the most thought-provoking chapters because it made me realise how the grandfather is snubbed at every occasion, because his stories and his emotions are no longer relevant.
But the connection we see between Jody and his grandfather is very sweet because he understands that his grandfather is hurt by how his father is treating him.
You would expect this book to be cheerful because it’s about a ten-year-old boy, but this is Steinbeck we are talking about and tragedy hits at every occasion.
I enjoyed his writing and I quickly got through the book. I give it three-and-a-half stars, because there was not one character which I actually liked; they were all flawed people and not very likable.