What is the tone of the book The Red Pony by John Steinbeck?

Expert Answers

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The tone of The Red Pony is mournful, and in some parts uplifting.

Tone is the author's attitude toward a subject.

The story is about a boy who gets a pony and then has to watch it die.  Although the parts of the story where the boy is with his pony are uplifting, in general the story is mournful as the boy has to accept his pony’s death.


The boy leads an unsentimental farmer’s life.

I'll show you how. He's just a colt. You can't ride him for some time." Jody put out his bruised hand again, and this time the red pony let his nose be rubbed.  (ch 1)

As sad as things are when the boy’s pony dies, the book remains mostly matter of fact.  It is sentiment without begin overly sentimental.

Jody looked back in time to see the hammer rise and fallagain on the flat forehead. Then Nellie fell heavily toher side and quivered for a moment. 

After Jody’s pony dies, his father gives him a chance to have another pony.  When the colt is born, the mare suffers complications and they have to kill it.  Jody can’t be happy about the birth of the colt, since he feels sorry for the death of the mare.

The tone of the little book underscores the theme that death is part of life, and farm living is difficult.

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