Literature has been stimulating minds for centuries, as has science. This essay explores the need for both in the emerging field of anthrozoology. Anthrozoology is unique in its interdisciplinary approach to the sciences. By integrating zoology, anthropology, psychology, biology and others, this emerging field of study is examining interconnectivity in new and exciting ways. Literature and literary fiction play a large part in mental development. Literature is often a child’s first introduction to the other animals that share the planet and can act as a bridge to future animal interactions. People who read literary fiction show improved theory-of-mind and empathy scores. Reading and writing literary fiction improves mental processing. Literature can serve as a catharsis, an escape, and a mind-builder. Because of this, literature is a critically important tool in the anthrozoology toolbox.
John Steinbeck perceives the natural world in The Red Pony as uncaring and unforgiving and predatory since it is full of predators which are in a constant conflict against one another. Such a conflict occurs either between animals and animals or between humans and animals or between humans and humans. At last it results in the survival of the fittest. Steinbeck demonstrates here his knowledge about little boys’ behavior toward animals, and how they have to be taught not to be cruel to animals; Jody Tiflin is a good example. Also, Steinbeck shows us how human and animal lives are closely connected. In this case, old Gitano and old Easter are good examples. Besides, Steinbeck reveals how Jody Tiflin ascends from boyhood to manhood. Jody’s acquisition of the red pony lifts him above his friends. One should remember that Steinbeck is enamored of the Arthurian cycle and so Steinbeck believes that the horse is of key importance to the knight. This idea can clearly be seen in “The Leader of the People” when the grandfather tells the Tiflin family and Billy Buck about his knighthood when he leads his people across the plains to fight the Indians.