The Red Pony
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The Red Pony
old. The turkeys were flying heavily into the lower branches of the cypress tree by the bunkhouse. A fat sleek ranch cat walked across the road carrying a rat so large that its tail dragged on the ground. The quail on the side-hills were still sounding the clear water call. Jody and Gitano came to the back steps and Mrs. Tiflin looked out through the screen door at them. “Come running, Jody. Come in to supper, Gitano.” Carl and Billy Buck had started to eat at the long oilcloth-covered table.
do, but it didn’t last long enough. Look!” she continued, “it’s as though he was born to do that, and after he finished it, there wasn’t anything more for him to do but think about it and talk about it. If there’d been any farther west to go, he’d have gone. He’s told me so himself. But at last there was the ocean. He lives right by the ocean where he had to stop.” She had caught Carl, caught him and entangled him in her soft tone. “I’ve seen him,” he agreed quietly. “He goes down and stares
stood still while his big hand patted her shoulder. Billy shook hands solemnly, grinning under his straw mustache. “I’ll put up your horse,” said Billy, and he led the rig away. Grandfather watched him go, and then, turning back to the group, he said as he had said a hundred times before, “There’s a good boy. I knew his father, old Mule-tail Buck. I never knew why they called him Mule-tail except he packed mules.” Mrs. Tiflin turned and led the way into the house. “How long are you going to
agreed. “He packed mules.” Grandfather put down his knife and fork and looked around the table. “I remember one time we ran out of meat—” His voice dropped to a curious low sing-song, dropped into a tonal groove the story had worn for itself. “There was no buffalo, no antelope, not even rabbits. The hunters couldn’t even shoot a coyote. That was the time for the leader to be on the watch. I was the leader, and I kept my eyes open. Know why? Well, just the minute the people began to get hungry
particular favorite among younger readers—teenagers, not children—perhaps for the same reasons I was drawn to Steinbeck’s fiction during my own high-school years. Adolescents are attracted to stories that seem to present a realistic account of life—including death—nor are they made particularly uncomfortable by scenes of cruel, even unwarranted suffering. Neither Catcher in the Rye nor Lord of the Flies were taken up by young readers because of any positive moral at the end, and recent examples