What does the word "rapier" mean in the novel The Red Pony?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A rapier is a long, thin sword.

The rapier belongs to the old man, Gitano.   Gitano seems like an old cowboy, a vestige of the Mexican occupation of their land. Jody sees Gitano with a rapier one day, and decides to never tell anyone about it.  He is mesmerized by the sword, and Gitano’s careful care of it.

Jody stood overwhelmed by the thing in Gitano’s hand, a lean and lovely rapier with a golden basket hilt. The blade was like a thin ray of dark light. The hilt was pierced and intricately carved. (Ch. 2)

He asks Gitano where he got the sword, and Gitano tells him he got it from his father.  He does not know where his father got it.  Jody understands that the sword is very important to Gitano.  He is also very curious about Gitano’s close-lipped discussion of the sword.

What do you do with it?"

Gitano looked slightly surprised. "Nothing. I just keep it."

"Can't I see it again?"

The old man slowly unwrapped the shining blade and let the lamplight slip along it for a moment. (Ch. 2)

Gitano tells Jody he needs to go in.  As Jody goes inside, he thinks to himself that it would be a “dreadful thing” if he told anyone about the rapier.  It seems like a personal, deep secret.  He feels sorry for Gitano in general, and therefore decides to respect his privacy.

To Jody, there is something very romantic about Gitano and the rapier.  It is an old-fashioned heirloom, a vestige of a nobler time.  He is aware that that sword is a connection to Gitano's heritage, though he does not even know the sword's whole story himself.  It was something his father gave him.  Jody longs for this time of adventure, represented by Gitano and his old rapier.