The Gift Essay, Research Paper
The Red Pony, by John Steinbeck, tells the story of young Jody?s growth and development. The novel, The Red Pony, is divided into four chapters that which constitute four short stories depicting a portion of Jody?s growth and development. The first story, ?The Gift?, illustrates the changes and experiences young Jody faces and he reacts to them.
In the beginning of ?The Gift?, Jody living in a state of innocence in which he is blind to the evil that surrounds him. Ironically, all the brutality and harsh nature of the outside world Jody is about to face surrounds him plainer than daylight. For instance, as Billy Buck, the hand, and Carl Tiflin, Jody?s father, leave the first morning of the story, they set out to sell their old cows to the butcher (Steinbeck 3). Also, Jody?s dog Smasher, lost an ear when killed a coyote (Steinbeck 4). Further, ?Jody could see the great black kettle under the cypress tree?where the pigs were scalded? (Steinbeck 4). Jody saw these things and regarded them as part of normal life (Steinbeck 5). He has no compassion for these animals, not because he lacks a heart, but because of his innocence he cannot comprehend the brutality and gruesomeness of the actions that are occurring around him.
Jody?s father, Carl Tifflin, is shown as tall stern disciplinarian (Steinbeck 3). Jody?s father serves as the person who guides him to what is right and what is wrong. At this point, Jody does not know clearly the difference between right and wrong, which he will soon gain an awareness of it. Jody especially liked his father when his father drank brandy, because. Further, Jody?s father only gave presents with reservations (Steinbeck 6-7). In other words, Jody had to earn his gifts. Moreover, Jody likes it when his father was drunk, for he would be more sociable and less of a disciplinarian, but mostly, he would expose his ?wild days? as a boy to Jody (Steinbeck 7). On the eve before Jody gets his father had Brandy on his breath, however, Jody was disappointed that his father sent him to bed (Steinbeck 7). Later Jody will realize this is because his father his trying to surprise him.
As Jody receives his gift, the pony, Jody stands stunned and amazed. As Steinbeck put it, ?Jody?s throat collapses in on itself and cuts his breath short? (9). As Jody is given the pony, Carl Tiflin makes sure to warn Jody that if he ever hears of Jody not feeding the pony, or not cleaning the pony?s stall, he will sell the pony off. It is ironic that Jody?s care for the pony will be an interference for the other responsibilities he is obligated to do (Steinbeck 9). The pony is the center point for which Jody?s major experiences and changes will take place.
At this point, Billy Buck becomes more of a father figure to Jody than Carl Tiflin. Billy is the one who halter-breaks Gablian (Benton 29). When Jody makes accomplishments with the pony, Billy praises Jody unlike Carl Tiflin. Carl Tiflin does not even appear to recognize that Jody no longer waits for the triangle to wake him up (Steinbeck 13). Instead, Jody wakes up on his own before the triangle to take care of his pony, Gablian (Steinbeck 13). Billy Buck recognizes Jody?s new responsibility as opposed to Carl Tiflin.
As the rains pour in the subsequent days before Thanksgiving, Jody keeps pony in its stall (Steinbeck 20-1). Jody did not allow the pony to get wet (Steinbeck 21). The rain continued for a while. Eventually, as the rain stopped, Jody decided to let the pony out while he went off to school (Steinbeck 21). Jody asks Billy Buck, if it begins to rain to put the pony in its stall (Steinbeck 21). Billy Buck promises Jody he will do so (Steinbeck 22). Unfortunately, Billy Buck breaks his promise and leaves Gablian outside in the rain (Steinbeck 22). This gave Jody a sense of disappointment that someone he trusted broke a promise to him. It is a major letdown for Jody.
Because of Billy Buck?s letdown, Gablian becomes ill with a disease known as Strangles. Strangles is a disease which mainly effects horses (?Strangles Information Page? 1). Because of Jody?s great love for the pony, Jody spends all the time he can to help the pony. At first, Billy Buck attempts to convince Jody that the horse will be okay (Steinbeck 23). Billy said this, however, knowing that it was partly his fault (Steinbeck 23). After Billy Buck realized the seriousness of Gablian?s condition, he makes sure Gablian will live (Steinbeck 27).
Billy Buck used steam to open up Gablian?s air passages, however, it only helped temporarily (Steinbeck 27). Gablian continued to get sick (Steinbeck 27-9). This continued for several days (Steinbeck 29). Finally, as a last resort to save Gablian?s life, Billy Buck had to perform a tracheotomy (Steinbeck 32). Unfortunately, this failed and while Jody was asleep the pony left its stable and died (Steinbeck 36-7).
Billy Buck promised Jody he would put the pony up if it rained. Billy Buck failed to do so. Billy Buck promised Jody the pony would live. The pony died. Young Jody has come to the realization that adults are not in control of their outcomes. Billy Buck could not wave a magic wand and make things better. Jody began as a person who lived in protective world in which to his eyes everything went right. However, after the pony things went wrong. If Jody had not received the pony is world may have remained innocent, because Billy Buck would not have left the pony out in the rain. Jody would not have had a pony to miss. Jody has made a major step into the adult world.
Benton, Robert M. ?Robert M. Benton on Conflicting Models of Male Adulthood.? John Steinbeck (Bloom?s Major Short Story Writers). Ed. Harold Bloom.Broomall: Chelsea House Publishers, 1999. 29-30.
Johnson, Claudia Durst. Understanding Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony, and ThePearl. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1997.
Sauder, Dianne. ?The Red Pony by John Steinbeck.? Monkey Notes. (15September 2000).
Steinbeck, John. ?The Gift.? The Red Pony. New York: Penguin Books, 1992. 1-37.
?Strangles Information Page.? Cyberhorse. (30 September 2000).