The Moon is Down

by

John Steinbeck

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Mayor Orden Character Analysis

The mayor of the unnamed town where The Moon Is Down takes place. Orden has been mayor for so long that when the citizens hear the word “mayor,” they immediately think of him. Despite his harmless and light-spirited air—which his wife, Madame Orden, constantly tries to correct—he is a skilled democratic leader who commits himself to following the wishes of his populace. This approach to leadership—which prizes the importance of listening to the townspeople above all—naturally contrasts with the invaders’ ideas about authority and leadership. In particular, Colonel Lanser tries to manipulate Mayor Orden’s influence over the townspeople, hoping to use the mayor’s popularity to subjugate the villagers without conflict. However, Orden recognizes Lanser’s tactics and patiently explains (whenever the conversation arises) that his town is a healthy democracy and, as such, will act out its will regardless of what its leader tells them to do. As if to demonstrate his willingness to allow others to influence his style of political leadership, he keeps the town’s local historian, Doctor Winter, at his side at all times, often turning to the man for advice and wisdom. Mayor Orden’s unwavering selflessness and commitment to democratic ideals find fullest expression at the end of the novella, when he goes to meet his death with peace of mind, having chosen to sacrifice himself rather than act against the interests of his people.

Mayor Orden Quotes in The Moon is Down

The The Moon is Down quotes below are all either spoken by Mayor Orden or refer to Mayor Orden. 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 1 Quotes

The Mayor looked steadily at her for a moment and his voice was sharp. “Madame, I think with your permission we will not have wine. The people are confused now. They have lived at peace so long that they do not quite believe in war. They will learn and then they will not be confused any more. They elected me not to be confused. Six town boys were murdered this morning. I think we will have no hunt breakfast. The people do not fight wars for sport.”

Related Characters: Mayor Orden (speaker), Colonel Lanser, Madame (Sarah) Orden
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

And Orden said, “Yes, that’s clear enough. But suppose the people do not want to work the mine?”
The colonel said, “I hope they will want to, because they must. We must have the coal.”
“But if they don’t?”
“They must. They are an orderly people. They don’t want trouble.” He waited for the Mayor’s reply and none came. “Is that not so, sir?”
Mayor Orden twisted his chain. “I don’t know, sir. They are orderly under their own government. I don’t know how they would be under yours. It is untouched ground, you see. We have built our government over four hundred years.”

Related Characters: Mayor Orden (speaker), Colonel Lanser (speaker)
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Winter walked to one of the gilt chairs, and as he was about to sit down he noticed that its tapestry was torn, and he petted the seat with his fingers as though that would mend it. And he sat down gently because it was torn.

Related Characters: Mayor Orden, Doctor Winter, Joseph
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

You know, Doctor, I am a little man and this is a little town, but there must be a spark in little men that can burst into flame. I am afraid, I am terribly afraid, and I thought of all the things I might do to save my own life, and then that went away, and sometimes now I feel a kind of exultation, as though I were bigger and better than I am, and do you know what I have been thinking, Doctor? […] Do you remember in school, in the Apology? Do you remember Socrates says, “Someone will say, ‘And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of a course of life which is likely to bring you to an untimely end?’ To him I may fairly answer, ‘There you are mistaken: a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether he is doing right or wrong.’”

Related Characters: Mayor Orden (speaker), Doctor Winter
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

Orden fingered his gold medallion. He said quietly, “You see, sir, nothing can change it. You will be destroyed and driven out.” His voice was very soft. “The people don’t like to be conquered, sir, and so they will not be. Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat. Herd men, followers of a leader, cannot do that, and so it is always the herd men who win battles and the free men who win wars. You will find that it is so, sir.”
[…] Madame broke in plaintively, “I wish you would tell me what all this nonsense is.”
“It is nonsense, dear.”
“But they can’t arrest the Mayor,” she explained to him.
Orden smiled at her. “No,” he said, “they can’t arrest the Mayor. The Mayor is an idea conceived by free men. It will escape arrest.”

Related Characters: Mayor Orden (speaker), Madame (Sarah) Orden (speaker), Colonel Lanser
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mayor Orden Character Timeline in The Moon is Down

The timeline below shows where the character Mayor Orden appears in The Moon is Down. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Appearances and Civility Theme Icon
...enemy soldiers take up residence in Mr. Corell’s large warehouse and send word to Mayor Orden, the town’s top official, that their commander, Colonel Lanser, will be visiting the mayoral palace. (full context)
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Doctor Winter asks Joseph where Mayor Orden is, and Joseph says the mayor’s wife, Madame Orden, is currently trimming his ear hairs... (full context)
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Mayor Orden finally emerges from having his ear hairs trimmed, wiggling a stubby finger into his right... (full context)
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Despite his wife’s insistence that they offer the colonel something to drink, Mayor Orden and Doctor Winter determine that the townspeople might not like it if their leader drank... (full context)
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...to the side, revealing the colonel and a man in a black suit, who Mayor Orden and Doctor Winter recognize as Mr. Corell. Lanser asks if Winter is an official, and... (full context)
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Mr. Corell justifies his actions to Mayor Orden, saying, “I work for what I believe in! That is an honorable thing.” Nevertheless, Orden... (full context)
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Not long after Corell leaves, Mayor Orden and Colonel Lanser’s conversation is interrupted by the palace’s cook, Annie, who complains to the... (full context)
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After Colonel Lanser explains to Orden that the rest of the country has also been invaded, the mayor asks if there... (full context)
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...village will cooperate with the invaders, Colonel Lanser says that his government hopes to keep Orden as the town’s mayor. In fact, Lanser says that Orden is to “give the orders”... (full context)
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Interrupting Colonel Lanser and Mayor Orden’s conversation, Joseph comes into the room and reports that Annie is growing increasingly agitated about... (full context)
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...and to tell the rest of the men to leave the porch. Turning to Mayor Orden, he points out that he could have Annie shot or imprisoned, but then he focuses... (full context)
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Before leaving the mayoral palace, Colonel Lanser asks Orden again whether or not he intends to cooperate with the invaders. Orden explains that he... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Six ranking officials of the military move into the top floor of Mayor Orden’s palace. Captain Bentick is a kind man obsessed with acting like a British gentleman. Major... (full context)
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...but Lanser tells him this would be unwise, explaining that it will be best if Orden remains in this position. Because he’s certain the townspeople will eventually revolt, Lanser explains, he... (full context)
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Corell becomes frustrated, saying he deserves a position of power. Lanser goes on, saying, “Mayor Orden is more than mayor. He is his people.” Seeing that arguing will lead him nowhere,... (full context)
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...thing we know, the only thing we know.” He then asks Loft to send Mayor Orden to see him as soon as possible. (full context)
Chapter 3
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Mayor Orden and Doctor Winter come into the drawing-room, dismiss Joseph and Annie, and discuss the upcoming... (full context)
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...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 the young man... (full context)
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Mayor Orden insists that he isn’t qualified to sentence Alexander Morden to death, since this falls outside... (full context)
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Lanser continues by emphasizing that he needs Orden’s help to control the situation. Finally, Orden says that if Lanser shoots the men who... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...drawing room, Captain Loft reads a statement of the events in the coal mine, and Orden tells Alex to sit down, asking a guard to give the young man a chair.... (full context)
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Mayor Orden steps toward Alex and tells him that his act of “private anger” was “the beginning... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...She says that they’ll be along in 45 minutes, and slips out to go tell Orden the coast is clear. After she leaves, Molly hears knocks on her door and opens... (full context)
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...a soldier was in the house. Although she’s somewhat suspicious of Molly, she fetches Mayor Orden, Doctor Winter, and Tom and Will Anders, who are all waiting outside. Once inside, Orden... (full context)
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...coming up the path. Having learned that Tonder was inside Molly’s house not long ago, Orden asks the young widow if she’s in trouble. “The trouble I’m in no one can... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...[him] a position of authority.” He reminds Lanser that he urged him to push Mayor Orden out of office, explaining that the colonel should have taken his advice, considering that Orden—he... (full context)
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...is suggesting. “These suggestions, Colonel, are a little stronger than suggestions,” Corell says, demanding that Orden be taken a hostage because “his life must [be made to] depend on the peacefulness... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Word travels rapidly throughout the town that Mayor Orden has been arrested, but still the citizens swarm the village and countryside to collect the... (full context)
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As the two men contemplate their probable demise, Mayor Orden asks Doctor Winter if he remembers Plato’s Apology, which they learned together in school. He... (full context)
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As Mayor Orden delivers Socrates’ monologue with Doctor Winter’s help, Colonel Lanser enters the room and listens attentively.... (full context)
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Finally, Mayor Orden can remember no more of the monologue, and Lanser tells Prackle to have Captain Loft... (full context)
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Colonel Lanser asks what Mayor Orden thinks his people would do if he asked them not to light the dynamite. Either... (full context)
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Orden speaks frankly with Lanser, telling him it’s obvious that although the invaders have the upper... (full context)
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Mayor Orden pauses and smiles. Another explosion sounds, now much closer. Looking at his friend, Orden puts... (full context)