Ideas and Topics for Papers


1. The name Jody gives his red pony, like many of the names in the book, proves important. Why does Jody choose Gabilan, a Spanish name?

2. The red pony was bought at the bankruptcy sale of a traveling carnival. Why is this important?

3. When the red pony dies, who does Jody blame? What is the significance of his childish anger?

4. The second story also concerns death, but this time focuses on the death of an old man. What does Gitano’s dignified death demonstrate to Jody?

5. In the third story, why is it important that the birth of Jody’s colt causes the death of the faithful mare?


1. Steinbeck assembled the stories that make up The Red Pony over several years. Show how the succession of stories broadens and deepens the meaning of the entire book.

2. The natural setting is very important in the sequence. Discuss the complex relationships between nature and human nature in the work.

3. Jody is the central character of The Red Pony, but his relationship with other characters forms his personality. Trace the pattern of character relationships in the book and show how they operate in Jody’s maturation.

4. Show how the final section of The Red Pony opens the story sequence up to a more universal interpretation as a fable of America’s lost youth and innocence, the loss of the American dream nurtured on the frontier.

5. What impact does Jody’s grandfather have on the formation of his developing character?

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