The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

The Red Pony cover

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck seems to have been published originally in book form in 1937, but the first four chapters – or short stories were published in magazines earlier in the 1930s. It’s a slim volume at just 120 pages and the last story is called Junius Maltby and features a man who is a bit of a dreamer, a reader and a philosopher which isn’t helpful if you own a farm and should be working in the fields.

Anyway, back to The Red Pony tales and these were not at all what I expected. The writing is lovely as you would expect and obviously Steinbeck knew horses well, but really the reality of living on a ranch could be brutal at times and he didn’t sugar coat the way of life, so this one isn’t for people who want to avoid what can be the harsh realities of working around livestock.

5 thoughts on “The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

  1. Oh my gosh–Steinbeck’s The Red Pony. It was assigned reading in my seventh grade English class. (I was 12 years old.) I could not bear the unrelenting sadness when the child’s pony died. I really couldn’t.
    My mother was annoyed with the school curriculum. She, a librarian, said, “The Red Pony was not written for young people. He wrote it for adults, for an adult audience.” I don’t know what’s wrong with the people deciding your curriculum. They don’t know what they’re doing, obviously.”
    I was very sad over that book. I was too young. But, you know, even as an adult, I would not choose to read such a sad book. I’m particular about my animal stories.

    • Judith,
      No I never thought for a moment that you had a ‘down’ on Steinbeck, I must admit I agree with your mother, it’s definitely not a choice for children. I thought the other tale about the emergency horse caesarean was even worse- brutality wise. I know that things like that happen to animals, here if a cow is having trouble getting a calf out (it being just too big) they choose the cow over the calf and get the cheese wire out! I only learned of that last year. Animal breeding can be horrible.

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