The Red Pony: Character Profiles
Jody Tifflin: the ten-year old protagonist of the story. Jody is quiet and diligent like an adult but retains the childlike urges to play and daydream. He receives a hard lesson about life, however, when his father gives him a pony that dies of illness. This lesson is reinforced when an old Mexican man visits his family's ranch before riding into the mountains to die. Finally, Jody's awareness becomes that of an adult when a birthing mare must be killed to deliver the colt promised to him.
Carl Tifflin: Jody's father and owner of the small California ranch on which the story takes place. Carl is a stern but treats people fairly as he deems them worthy. He is embarrassed by emotion and reticent to offer any praise greater than telling someone they've done a "good job." He acts in what he believes to be his son's best interest and is careful not to betray his feelings.
Mrs. Tifflin: Jody's patient and hardworking mother. Although she regularly castigates her son for his inattention to chores and she is often exasperated by his dirty and torn clothing, she is genuinely proud of him when she observes him caring for his sick pony.
Billy Buck: the experienced ranch hand at the Tifflin ranch. Billy Buck befriends Jody and teaches the boy about horses. Billy grew up with horses and Carl Tifflin estimates that Billy is one of the best horsemen in the region. Although Jody respects the man's knowledge, Billy Buck loses stature with the boy when the pony dies after Billy promised it would get well. When the unborn colt needs to be killed in order to save the mare's life, Billy chooses to kill the mare instead in order to give Jody the colt.
Gitano: a paisano, or old Mexican laborer, who arrives at the ranch one day and claims that he was born on the property and he has returned. Carl Tifflin rejects the man's request and ignores Gitano's repeated insistence that he was born there. Gitano is permitted to stay the night during which Jody discovers that he has a family heirloom sword that he carries. Gitano steals the old horse Easter and rides into the desolate mountains ostensibly to die.
Grandfather : Jody's maternal grandfather who led a wagon train across the prairie, fighting Indians along the way. When he visits the Tifflin family he is hurt when Jody's father complains that he has told the same stories too often.