“The Moon is Down” by John Steinbeck Critical Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer


The moon is Down is a novel that was set in the small town of Norway during the World War II. The novel is unknown to many but has been widely distributed among the political rebels and activists. It is quite a small novel in stature which has several themes well elaborated. The themes include the nadirs and the burdens of the complex military industry, and the spirit of the human race toward and against slavery and repression and finally the relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed.

Steinbeck creates a story of a well knit community that is forced to face the atrocious authenticities of the Nazi occupation. The narration takes place in the coal mining which is an indication of the magnitude of the winter freeze. It is in a warm, well knit community with people full of apparent love for each other. This significantly shows the resistant and the irony between the things happening and where they are happening.

Lessons learnt and how they can be applied

According to Morine (2009, par2), the story explains the potential and aptitude the oppressed have to wallop back not in favor of their oppressors. It helps them to understand they are not animals, but they are human beings who have decided to execute certain roles against the people they have overcome or conquered; the oppressed.

One of the greatest lessons that we learn is the indulgent of the human freedom and rights in the society they are living in. It helps man understand the nature of freedom and indomitable spirit of man. Morine states in his work that, “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.” (Morine 1)

This shows the spirit a man should have in fighting for their rights even in the midst of oppression. This helps us to understand that the people in the society show hold on to their virtues and they should fight on for them (Steinbeck, pp108).

Mayor demonstrates his love for the nation and the community which he is determined to fight for even though fear dominates most of his days. This is a direct indication that everyone should stand up to the principles of the society and position himself to make the community more compact and waver not.

Looking more keenly, we can conclude that the race is not won but the swift but the persistent. In his monologue (Steinbeck, pp112), he has a strong heart that knows not giving up. He argues that, though the free men may continually seem to win the wars and manage to oppress the herds’ man; with time the herds’ men will lay their hands on their rights and freedom.

Royalty it the other major lesson that everyone we learn from this literature; being royal to ones nation helps on to stand strong even under pressure and threat. The individuals who are royal cannot betray their nation’s wealth no matter the cost; and they will be willing to pay the cost to rescue their nation from its adversity. There is a great price to pay for freedom and royalty. It cost people’s lives for the freedom we enjoy to be attained (Morine, 2009, Para 10).

In reference to an analysis of “The Moon is Down” by Smith 2010, national togetherness and unity are very important. In the moon is down, when the opposing force highly increased and landed on weak hands of a disunited town, they were able to forcefully invade the town.

The lack of human connection demonstrates a deadly moment and an end. While each person in the town is counting on the other, it leaves loopholes which the enemy builds on. This reveals that in a war there is no good side, it calls for all parties to be ready for a win or a defeat having in mind both of the parties are human.

Freedom is not attained through forceful imposing of laws and regulations and there are many ways of overcoming cities and owning wealth rather than war. Forceful demand for ones right does not mean they will be achieved as per the expectation of the individual. According to Steinbeck’s quote; the policemen and the postmen could not access their offices and insisting for their rights led to them been jailed, it is clear that force can be detrimental if used in search for freedom (Smith, 2010, Para 3).

Lessons to the American leaders

The small peaceful town was overtaken by their oppressors when it was not ready at all. This leaves the leaders with a great responsibility of protecting their nation at all times whether there are any signals of danger or not. The nation’s security sector ought not to be invaded and overrun without any resistance.

The leadership ought to passionately defend their nation and wealth. In the Moon is Down, they veterans never resisted the invasion by their oppressors which left the citizens with confusion and angry with the leadership they looked up to (Morine, 2009, Para 11).

Greed for leadership has been portrayed in the book which ends up in disloyalty and betrayal of the nation’s liberty. This is seen where Mayor Orden gives the battalion invading their land hi s land for them to build a head quarters and in return was elevated in leadership. This came along with favors which made him betray his own beautiful town to the invaders.

Colonel Lanser, the veteran understood the importance of a free city. He knew people whose freedom has been taken by force could not be happy and peaceful. There fore he tried to work under the umbrella of civility and law which never worked so well. The heart of a citizen should be for the good of his nation and people.

Steinbeck in his book the Moon is Down opens up a leader’s paradox. He presents it going beyond the “good and the bad” sides in conflict using the human side of the enemy being faced. Steinbeck presents the soldiers and other officers from either side as normal and real people with all the social responsibilities common to all men. This leaves all the listeners with a deep rethink of the inhumanity of war. This ought to help the leaders think in a more human way and solve matters in ways that avoid wars.

The portrayed humanity should help the American leaders derive the best modes of problem solving and conquering new territories which should take care of all humanity. They should take care of all humanity and more so work to sustain and build humanity than break. The significance of the timing in plot, winter, is mostly on the way it takes time to recover and sort of revenge slowly.

Just like the people who have been conquered settle slowly and in silence and preparing for revenge. The leaders should learn to heal from their past experiences which should help them lay out great ideas of improving the state of their cities, towns and nations. This gives the confidence that a single defeat does not mean all is lost there is much hope after rising up just like for a tree that has cut which can blossom again.

The leaders should learn that freedom is not attained through forceful imposing of laws and regulations. And a city can be overcome through other ways far from war. Forceful demand for ones right does not mean they will be achieved as per the expectation of the personality. According to Steinbeck’s quote; the policemen and the postmen could not access their offices and insisting for their rights led to them been jailed (Smith, 2010, Para 3).

War leaves both the oppressed and oppressor are left wounded and mostly psychologically. The occupied city also suffers losses which at times are so immense. For example in the first few pages shows details of rapid fire sequences which are depicted to have occurred before the settling of the mayor. From this, it is clear that an unsettled leadership creates a platform for the invasion by enemies. Therefore the leadership should learn to stabilize its operations and settle its internal conflicts to enable well laid strategies of operation (66-67).

An experienced army is an added advantage to a nation is vital; mostly experience in war but not in defeat. Experience prepares one for a bigger thing than he conquered earlier. The towns soldiers are knowledgeable in managing demonstration hence had never heard of the enemy, neither were they prepared to handle him.

A good scenario of explaining how is Dr. Winter’s lament, “our country is failing, our town is conquered…the Mayor is about to receive the conqueror, we hope the best for the resistance, especially since it is tragic that in such a small and tight community they have been given up by a man the town once respected, George C” (Smith, 2010, Para 4)


The Moon is Down helps the nations and their leadership learn the vital elements of royalty, preparedness and unity. It also displays clearly the great implications of believing in one self and willingness to pay a cost for what is rightfully yours. Warring nations currently, picks up the benefits of always been prepared and guarding jealousy what they have worked for all the years.

Works Cited

Morine, Nicholas. Literature Review – Steinbeck, The Moon is Down: John Steinbeck’s Novel Explores Subversion, Resistance to Occupation. UK: Suite101.com, 2009. Web.

Smith, Nicole. Analysis of “The Moon is Down” by John Steinbeck: The Psychological Ailing of the Enemy. UK: articlemyriad.com, 2010. Web. <https://www.articlemyriad.com/>.

Steinbeck, John. The Moon is Down, Penguin Classics. New York City: Viking Press, 1995.

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