The Red Pony, by Steinbeck is a story based in Salinas, California where Steinbeck was born and raised. Living during the era of the Dust Bowl, Steinbeck was able to show direct connections with the time period in the book and real life. The book is about a boy named Jody who is of the age where proving his maturity and responsibility to himself and his father is very important. Jody receives a pet pony from his father and takes it upon himself to care for it and raise it. However Jody is faced with many challenges and he has to learn to overcome them on his own. In The Red Pony, Steinbeck uses the pony as a symbol to convey the responsibility of tackling challenges head on.
Many of the challenges that appeared in The Red Pony were all focused around one person. And that person was a boy named Jody. Jody acquires a pony, from his father, as a gift but also as a symbol of a personal test for Jody to see if he is ready for all the responsibilities as a man. The pony is a good way to teach Jody responsibility, because of all the maintenance and attention that is needed to keep an animal. In the story, the pony Gabilan becomes Jodys top priority, as he comes home every day to feed, brush, and even train Gabilan. But one day Gabilan catches a cold, and becomes very ill. So it is up to Jody and Bill Buck to try and help the helpless animal. Billy does whatever he can to help this animal survive, but one night Gabilan ran away from the ranch and ended up dead the next morning. Jody felt that he had let his father down tremendously and so he took it very hard on himself because the one responsibility he was given, he felt he failed himself and his father. This is where Jodys internal conflicts began.
For Jody having to take on a sense of responsibility was a new life skill he had never encountered before. Having the weight of people looking up to him to take on the responsibility of something, was far beyond what Jody had expected. He had never really understood the true meaning of what it meant to be responsible for something. Always having a free spirit without having to look out after anything was what Jody was use to. However that all changed when he got Gabilan. Having the pony was a great way for Jody to learn what it truly meant to be held responsible for something. Jody eventually fully understood this concept once Gabilan had died. He knew that it was his responsibility and in turn, he of course took the hard part out on himself.
Jody was never quite the same after Gabilan died. He was much more aware of his surrounding duties while at home. He had learned that if careful watch and dedicated time were not focused towards whatever it was that he was doing, then the end result would play out just like it did for his pony. Jody had finally felt what the feeling of disappointment and failure felt like, and so he knew he could not slip up again. No longer would Jody let his guard down on anything he was held responsible for.
Now that Jody has fully realized what not to do, it is only right that his new realization be tested. Soon enough Jody is given a new colt horse. Jody eventually grows a connection with the colt and it eventually turns to Jodys full responsibility. Jody takes care of the colt and does everything he can to keep it in good health. Unfortunately Mother Nature goes against Jodys wishes and the colt ends up getting sick and needs to immediately deliver its baby because it was dying. This was tough for Jody to handle but he did what he could. But going through this showed Jody that it wasnt a lack of responsibility that he showed to his animals but that mother nature has its way of just making things happen for a reason. And that is where Jody learned what his true meaning of responsibility was.