The Moon is Down


John Steinbeck

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Molly Morden Character Analysis

A local villager who is widowed after her husband, Alexander Morden, is executed by firing squad for having killed Captain Bentick. When Mayor Orden secretly organizes an escape plan for two local men, Will and Tom Anders, he uses Molly’s house as a safe place to speak with the two fugitives. Despite Orden’s belief that Molly’s house is safe, though, the meeting is interrupted by Lieutenant Tonder, who has taken a liking to Molly after watching her in the streets, deciding she must be a kind woman. Tonder tells Molly in a previous meeting (right before Mayor Orden arrives) that he wants to “forget the war … just for a little while” so that he and she can “talk together like people.” What Tonder has failed to remember is that he was the one to command the firing squad that killed Molly’s husband. When he returns to her house later, Molly stabs him to death with a pair of scissors and then flees town.

Molly Morden Quotes in The Moon is Down

The The Moon is Down quotes below are all either spoken by Molly Morden or refer to Molly 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 6 Quotes

He sat down. “I’m sorry.” After a moment he said, “I wish I could do something. I’ll have the snow pushed off the roof.”
“No,” said Molly, “no.”
“Why not?”
“Because the people would think I had joined with you. They would expel me. I don’t want to be expelled.”
Tonder said, “Yes, I see how that would be. You all hate us. But I’ll take care of you if you’ll let me.”
Now Molly knew she was in control, and her eyes narrowed a little cruelly and she said, “Why do you ask? You are the conqueror. Your men don’t have to ask. They take what they want.”
“That’s not what I want,” Tonder said. “That’s not the way I want it.”
And Molly laughed, still a little cruelly. “You want me to like you, don’t you, Lieutenant?”

Related Characters: Lieutenant Tonder (speaker), Molly Morden (speaker)
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:
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Molly Morden Character Timeline in The Moon is Down

The timeline below shows where the character Molly Morden appears in The Moon is Down. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
...into the 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... (full context)
Appearances and Civility Theme Icon
Just as Molly departs, Colonel Lanser arrives. He asks to speak to the mayor privately, so Doctor Winter... (full context)
Chapter 6
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
...the snow-covered streets, walking by dark houses with shuttered windows. Inside one of these houses, Molly Morden sits knitting in the low light of a small lantern. She hears the footsteps... (full context)
Empathy and the Effects of Fascism Theme Icon
Annie explains to Molly that the mayor needs to speak to the Anders before they sail, though she doesn’t... (full context)
Empathy and the Effects of Fascism Theme Icon
Having let Tonder inside, Molly says, “You don’t know who I am, do you?” She realizes that he’s lonely, and... (full context)
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
Empathy and the Effects of Fascism Theme Icon
Tonder tries desperately to elicit kindness from Molly, even reciting a short poem he claims he wrote for her, though she recognizes the... (full context)
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
Moments after Tonder’s departure, Annie returns to Molly’s house and asks Molly why a soldier was in the house. Although she’s somewhat suspicious... (full context)
Appearances and Civility Theme Icon
...reports that a soldier is 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... (full context)
Chapter 7
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
...explaining that the colonel should have taken his advice, considering that Orden—he has learned—was in Molly Morden’s house on the night Lieutenant Tonder was stabbed to death. Corell reveals that he... (full context)