The Red Pony: Death and Rebirth Essay

The Red Pony: Death and Rebirth Essay

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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, appear...


... middle of paper ...


...y now must correlate into his own life. All of Jody's experiences surrounding the violent death of his treasured horse, Gabilan, served to prepare him for an eventual balanced acceptance of life and death. Realistically, Jody knew that the pony was going to die: "When Jody saw how dry and dead the hair looked, he knew at last that there was no hope for the pony." But however prepared he appeared for the death, he still had to assert some resistance to it. This is expressed when he "bashed" the head of the "buzzard straight" as retribution for harming his loved animal. This gory attack on the buzzards at the end of the story indicated his irrational, emotional rejection of the violent aspects of nature. This aspect is what the death of the Red Pony helped Jody to realize, for although his friend had passed, a new rebirth of insight into maturity had entered his mind.

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