The Moon is Down

by

John Steinbeck

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Alexander Morden Character Analysis

A coal miner and local villager married to a woman named Molly Morden. While working in the mines one day, Alex refuses to continue, arguing that he’s a free man and thus doesn’t have to toil for the invading military. Captain Loft tries to subdue him, as does Captain Bentick. In the commotion, Alexander drives a pickaxe into Bentick’s head. The kindly old captain dies, and Alex is taken as a prisoner. Colonel Lanser tells Mayor Orden that the young man must be put to death, requesting that the order come from Orden himself. Feeling deep sympathy for Alex, the mayor refuses to sentence him. Regardless, the miner is found guilty and executed by a firing squad commanded by Lieutenant Tonder.

Alexander Morden Quotes in The Moon is Down

The The Moon is Down quotes below are all either spoken by Alexander Morden or refer to Alexander Morden. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Moon is Down published in 1995.
Chapter 3 Quotes

Winter said, “I would guess it is for the show. There’s an idea about it: if you go through the form of a thing, you have it, and sometimes people are satisfied with the form of a thing. We had an army—soldiers with guns—but it wasn’t an army, you see. The invaders will have a trial and hope to convince the people that there is justice involved. Alex did the captain, you know.”

Related Characters: Doctor Winter (speaker), Mayor Orden, Alexander Morden
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

At last Orden answered, “Why didn’t you shoot him then? That was the time to do it.”
Lanser shook his head. “If I agreed with you, it would make no difference. You know as well as I that punishment is largely for the purpose of deterring the potential criminal. Thus, since punishment is for others than the punished, it must be publicized. It must even be dramatized.” He thrust a finger in back of his belt and flipped his little dagger.

Related Characters: Mayor Orden (speaker), Colonel Lanser (speaker), Alexander Morden
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Lanser said, “No; it is true whether you believe it or not: personally, I have respect for you and your office, and”—he put his forehead in his hand for a moment—“you see, what I think, sir, I, a man of a certain age and certain memories, is of no importance. I might agree with you, but that would change nothing. The military, the political pattern I work in has certain tendencies and practices which are invariable.”
Orden said, “And these tendencies and practices have been proven wrong in every single case since the beginning of the world.”
Lanser laughed bitterly, “I, an individual man with certain memoires, might agree with you, might even add that one of the tendencies of the military mind and pattern is an inability to learn, an inability to see beyond the killing which is its job. But I am not a man subject to memories. The coal miner must be shot publicly, because the theory is that others will then restrain themselves from killing our men.”

Related Characters: Mayor Orden (speaker), Colonel Lanser (speaker), Alexander Morden
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:
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Alexander Morden Character Timeline in The Moon is Down

The timeline below shows where the character Alexander Morden appears in The Moon is Down. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
...where a trial is soon to be held. As they do so, they talk about Alexander Morden, the man who killed Captain Bentick in the mine. Joseph tells Annie that the... (full context)
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
...drawing-room, dismiss Joseph and Annie, and discuss the upcoming trial. After several minutes, Molly Morden, Alex’s wife, enters and asks to speak to the mayor. She says the townspeople have been... (full context)
Appearances and Civility Theme Icon
...his leave. Lanser opens by expressing his sorrow over the circumstances that have led to Alexander’s trial, but Orden cuts to the chase, asking why, if Colonel Lanser intended to kill... (full context)
Empathy and the Effects of Fascism Theme Icon
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Mayor Orden insists that he isn’t qualified to sentence Alexander Morden to death, since this falls outside the purview of a mayor’s duty. He criticizes... (full context)
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
...men who killed the six townspeople on the day of the invasion, then he—Orden—will sentence Alex. Of course, Lanser cannot agree to this, and thus resolves to sentence Alex himself. He... (full context)
Chapter 4
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Snow falls heavily over the town as the villagers wait for the verdict of Alexander Morden’s trial. Inside the drawing room, Captain Loft reads a statement of the events in... (full context)
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Appearances and Civility Theme Icon
Alex explains to the makeshift court that he lost his temper in the mines because he’s... (full context)
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
Empathy and the Effects of Fascism Theme Icon
Mayor Orden steps toward Alex and tells him that his act of “private anger” was “the beginning of public anger.”... (full context)