The Moon is Down

by

John Steinbeck

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Themes and Colors
Democracy and Conquest Theme Icon
Empathy and the Effects of Fascism Theme Icon
Order, Control, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Appearances and Civility Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Moon is Down, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Democracy and Conquest

In The Moon is Down, John Steinbeck celebrates the power of democracy by examining the ways in which a society built upon the principles of equality and fair governmental representation is capable of resisting the power of authoritarianism. Written with the intention of giving hope to Nazi-occupied European nations toward the end of the Second World War, Steinbeck’s novella suggests that fascist invaders underestimate the power of democratic unity. For example, when Colonel Lanser

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Empathy and the Effects of Fascism

Although the invaders in The Moon is Down are the book’s antagonists, Steinbeck invites readers to empathize—at least on some level—with the fact that the invaders have been tasked with the seemingly impossible mission of controlling a resilient community that automatically hates them and everything they stand for. Steinbeck does this by devoting significant portions of the novella to conversations between invading military officials, many of whom express doubts about what they’re doing in the…

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Order, Control, and Hierarchy

The Moon is Down studies how authoritarian regimes try to implement order as a way of cementing their control over people. Throughout the novel, Colonel Lanser calls upon Mayor Orden to help him enforce—and to a certain extent regain—a sense of order over the townspeople. Of course, this is somewhat ironic, considering that the invaders themselves were the ones to disrupt the town’s order in the first place when they arrived with their weapons and…

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Appearances and Civility

The fascist military in The Moon is Down tries to give the impression that it operates according to rules of civility, hoping to convince the townspeople that this wartime invasion is a simple political matter and not a violent assault on freedom and democracy. Colonel Lanser even tells Mayor Orden that the occupation of the town is “‘more like a business venture than anything else.’” In doing so, he tries to ease his own conscience…

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