The Red Pony: Death And Rebirth

1480 words - 6 pages

The Red Pony:  Death and Rebirth

The pony still lay on his side and the wound in his throat bellowed in and out. When Jody saw how dry and dead the hair looked, he knew at last that there was no hope for the pony . . .he had seen it [the dead hair] before, and he knew it was a sure sign for death." In Steinbeck's The Red Pony. death played an intricate role in the life of Jody, an adolescent farmer's child. With the reoccurring theme of death's association with violence, we are eventually enabled to discover that from one such horrific incident, a rebirth of life can be formed.

In Steinbeck's classic tale of a young boy's coming of age and his initiation into manhood, this sense of life and rebirth played harmonious roles together. As a typical ten year old boy in a western farming village, Jody basically~y felt the need to justify his manliness, and to prove to his parents that he alone could handle immense responsibilities that others of his own age couldn't. To test this exact faith, a horse, named Gabilan, was handed to Jody by his stem father, ironically called Carl Tifflin instead of "dad." The horse, in fact, proved to be Steinbeck's reoccurring message throughout the remainder of the novel. Testing the patience between man and horse, and also the boy's great love for the beastly animal, it is learned of the need to develop discipline in order to cope with life and with death and the violence associated with it.

With the death of the horse came the arrival of an old Mexican man, who too so happened to be coming to the crossroads of his life. The man claimed to be coming to the mountain region to die in the place where he so happened to have been born. Jody's immediate reaction to Gitano, as he was called, appeared mysterious and enchanting. The man was retumir~ almost ritual-like, to the place of his birth and that of his father's also. In accordance with the story's theme, he points to the west, long a symbol of the wretchedness of the time. The family, disconcerted at the appearance of such a stranger,

invited the man to stay for a short while. While on the farm, the old man spotted an declining horse, as close to death as he was. Before anyone could really become acquainted with Gitano, he had stolen the horse, although it was dying like himself, and headed out towards the enigmatic mountain regions of the west.

As a contrast to the references to death, a new rebirth is also explored. With the comming of the spring season came also the birth of a new horse, which would belong to Jody after it was born. As typical with the style, though, in order for the rebirth, death must coincide with it. As the horse, Nellie, entered labor, a complication occurred in the pregnancy. Eventually killing the older horse to make way for the newer one, Steinbeck added one more reference to his thought that along with a sense of happiness, one of discontent is bound to follow.

As in the case of Steinbeck's novel the reoccurrence of...

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