The Moon is Down

by

John Steinbeck

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The Palace Symbol Analysis

The Palace Symbol Icon

Mayor Orden and Madame Orden’s palace serves as a hub of influence in The Moon Is Down. At least, this is what Colonel Lanser and his soldiers hope when they decide to take up quarters on the palace’s second floor. “We have found that when a staff lives under the roof of the local authority, there is more tranquility,” Lanser tells Orden. In other words, the conquerors want to appear as if they’re working together with the “local authority” so that the townspeople are less likely to resist their orders. In this way, Lanser conflates the palace with power and control, treating it as emblematic of Mayor Orden’s leadership. Of course, Orden himself rejects the notion that as mayor he has the authority to command his people—rather, he prefers to allow them to inform his decisions—and so Lanser’s occupation of the palace does very little in the way of helping to pacify or subordinate the villagers. Furthermore, the palace itself is symbolic of the negative effect the invaders have on the town. Indeed, at the end of the novella, Doctor Winter notices that one of the drawing-room chairs—which were all so perfectly and meticulously tended by Joseph before the conquerors arrived—has a rip in its upholstery. As such, what was once a sterling set of furniture now shows the marks of wear and fatigue, further highlighting how Colonel Lanser and his soldiers are a detriment to the town. Ironically enough, the invading soldiers now live in the very palace they’re destroying, and although they’ve come no closer to fully conquering or dominating the villagers, they have trapped themselves within a deteriorating environment they once thought communicated power and supremacy. In this way, the palace is a symbol of authority and power, but it symbolizes the authority of the people and the power of democracy rather than the power of any one man or group of men.

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The Palace Symbol Timeline in The Moon is Down

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Palace 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
...Orden, the town’s top official, that their commander, Colonel Lanser, will be visiting the mayoral palace. (full context)
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Appearances and Civility Theme Icon
Inside the palace’s drawing room, the mayor’s servant, Joseph, frets over the placement of the chairs, worrying about... (full context)
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Appearances and Civility Theme Icon
Not long after Corell leaves, Mayor Orden and Colonel Lanser’s conversation is interrupted by the palace’s cook, Annie, who complains to the mayor and his wife that there is a group... (full context)
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Before leaving the mayoral palace, Colonel Lanser asks Orden again whether or not he intends to cooperate with the invaders.... (full context)
Chapter 2
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
Appearances and Civility Theme Icon
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 Hunter... (full context)
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Appearances and Civility Theme Icon
One day, Captain Loft enters the palace after a patrol shift. While taking off many pieces of equipment, he tells Major Hunter... (full context)
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
Empathy and the Effects of Fascism Theme Icon
Mr. Corell pays the palace a visit to speak to Colonel Lanser, who introduces Corell to the other officers. Lanser... (full context)
Chapter 3
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
The townspeople move slowly and somberly through the day. In the mayoral palace, Joseph and Annie try awkwardly to move a large table into the drawing-room, where a... (full context)
Chapter 5
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
Empathy and the Effects of Fascism Theme Icon
In these tense conditions, the officers seek refuge in the mayoral palace. One night, Prackle, Tonder, and Hunter sit in the darkness, the room lit only by... (full context)
Chapter 8
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
Empathy and the Effects of Fascism Theme Icon
...the packages of dynamite. Meanwhile, Orden and Doctor Winter remain under arrest, confined to the palace. At one point, Doctor Winter comes into the drawing-room and asks to see the mayor,... (full context)