Each of the stories that comprise The Red Pony begins during a specific season that complements the mood and emotional arc of the story. Jody receives Gabilan in the late summer, Just two weeks after the start of school, and the pony becomes the defining element in Jody’s life. Though he is still a boy, the pony gives Jody greater standing with his peers whom he brings to Jealously observe the pony. It’s not until the following summer when Jody is in the midst of training the horse that the unique, personal relationship between boy and horse begins to take root.
The normally arefree days of summer that were once marked by boredom are now structured by the desire to train the horse. The cold early-winter rain that soaks the horse causes an illness which eventually kills it. Nature, though not directly responsible, plays a key role in undermining Jody’s hopes. In “The Great Mountains” the long summer season of relative inactivity provides the perfect setting for Jody’s daydreams and speculations. Gitano enters Jody’s life on the dusty road and departs into the dry mountains and though Jody seeks solace at the spring tub he cannot escape the reat truth that he has glimpsed. The Promise” begins appropriately in the spring when all of nature is exploding with life. Steinbeck uses heavily sexual-tinged metaphors to describe the time period during which Nellie mates. He talks of the “wild oat heads Just clearing their scabbards” and the stallion’s “stiff erected nostrils” that are “red as flame. ” When the colt is delivered the following February at the cost of Nellie’s life the lesson that death and life are Joined is augmented by the dying winter season and the promise of another spring.