Resistance becomes the central theme of The Moon is Down. Once the town is overrun with "hard people," it never capitulates. Events transpire afterwards, and each one is measured in the resistance with which the townspeople react to it. The reactions to Corell, to the execution of Morden, and how the fight seems to become a "a slow, silent, waiting revenge," are all examples of this resistance. The theme of resistance is evident in how...
Resistance becomes the central theme of The Moon is Down. Once the town is overrun with "hard people," it never capitulates. Events transpire afterwards, and each one is measured in the resistance with which the townspeople react to it. The reactions to Corell, to the execution of Morden, and how the fight seems to become a "a slow, silent, waiting revenge," are all examples of this resistance. The theme of resistance is evident in how the townspeople do not care about the individual events that impact them. Their focus is on something larger, something more profound. From the child who builds a snowman caricature of "the leader" to the emergence of the Mayor as a figure of sacrifice, the cause of freedom and resistance endures. Dr. Winter articulates this when talking about the mindset of the townspeople:
A time- minded people… and the time is nearly up. They think that just because they have only one leader and one head, we are all like that. They know that ten heads lopped off will destroy them, but we are a free people, we have as many heads as we have people, and in a time of need leaders pop up among us like mushrooms.
The moon never seems to go down on this fight for sovereignty which defines the townspeople. Resistance becomes an essential theme in the narrative.
I think that the Mayor's words probably best embody the theme of resistance. From his initial appearance as one who wanted to impress the invaders and one who seemed uncertain of his purpose, the Mayor evolves into a magnanimous figure. He is shown to be one who recognizes the larger struggle of resistance within his people. This becomes evident at the end of the narrative:
I have no choice of living or dying, you see, sir, but - I do have a choice of how I do it. If I tell them not to fight, they will be sorry, but they will fight. If I tell them to fight, they will be glad, and I who am not a very brave man will have made them a little braver.
The Mayor's words reflect the theme of resistance. They show how the individual is compelled to recognize their own role in a fight for that which is honorable. The Mayor's words reflect resistance in how they maintain the social good. The Mayor does not look for a way out of his own death. He does not seek to escape. Rather, the ending of the novella reflects how the Mayor understands his own purpose is meant for something larger. The cause of resistance is how he defines himself. He recognizes this as part of his being. The resistance is evident in how he wishes to sacrifice his life for a larger cause of defeating the invaders. In the Mayor's words, the "debt will be repaid" in the townspeople's embrace of the larger cause, one for which he himself makes the ultimate sacrifice.
The novel “The Moon is Down” by John Steinbeck offers readers insights and analysis about the psychology of wartime from both the perspective of the conquerors and the conquered. Although early on the reader learns more about the small community and is thus compelled to sympathize with it as it struggles with the violent transition, as more is learned about the opposing force, it is clear that it is the conquerors who suffered more (in terms of the realistic psychological details) throughout the occupation.
As any analysis or summary of “The Moon is Down” by John Steinbeck will note, the opposing force is confident and vigorous at first but as the townspeople organize more and more, this lack of human connection proves almost deadly. While the townspeople have each other to count on, the opposing force sinks deeper into despair, doubt, loneliness, and homesickness. In general, Steinbeck’s “The Moon is Down” reveals that there are no “good" sides during a war or occupation and it reminds readers that both sides are simply humans, after all. Through his portrayal of the “human side" of the supposed enemy, Steinbeck presents readers with a paradox in “The Moon is Down” that goes beyond “good and bad" sides in a conflict. By presenting the soldiers and officers on both sides as real people with common concerns such as family, friends, and love, we are forced to rethink the inhumanity of war.Although this analysis of “The Moon is Down” by John Steinbeck argues that the conqueror had the greatest challenge psychologically, it must be stated that this does not mean that the occupied town did not suffer. From the first pages of “The Moon is Down” by Steinbeck, the readers is encouraged to feel some sympathy for this small town in the face of the occupation. The first page of this Steinbeck story introduces us to several details in rapid-fire sequence before settling in one the Mayor. For instance, we are told immediately in one of the more important quotes from “The Moon is Down” by John Steinbeck “policeman and the postman could not even get to their own offices in the Town Hall and when they insisted on their rights they were taken prisoners of war and locked up in the town jail" (1).
We are confronted with sudden and brutal lack of rights associated with occupation and one cannot help but feel pity for this peaceful tight-knit community. Even the town’s paltry soldiers seem pitiable as Steinbeck explains how they were “loose-hung" and had very little “experience in war and none at all in defeat" (1). The thought of these poor shoddy town soldiers being immediately dispatched is striking and since we are not told anything of the enemy, it is expected that this novel will be like other war novels and will attempt to take sides. When Dr. Winter laments that “our country is falling, 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 Corell.
It takes several pages of introductions and exposition before the reader is allowed to get a glimpse at the enemy in “The Moon is Down” in any significant or meaningful way. Throughout the first part of the novel, they are a rather faceless force of occupation, taking over the coal mines and demanding labor from the newly enslaved townspeople. There is an air of hopefulness about this conquering force and the optimism at this early point borders on villainy until we learn more about the psychological complexities faced by the opposing force. The opposing military leader, Colonel Lanser cannot understand why the town is resisting him and to him it seems perfectly natural for a takeover to occur and for people to immediately fall under his control. He begins to break down throughout the novel because of this conflict and his human side is eventually displayed.
In another example concerning Tonder, he considers this new conquered territory, Lieutenant Tonder remarks on the pristine landscape, seeing it as something that could belong to him personally, without a thought in his head about the townspeople or his means of acquiring the land. He states, “There are some beautiful farms here. If four or five of them were thrown together, it would be a nice place to settle, I think" (34). At this point, it can assumed that many readers are still on the side of the occupied townspeople since more of their sufferings and hardships been detailed. Little does one realize, however, that this statement is not merely intended to make the enemy seems as though they think all should belong to them, but it offers some foreshadowing to the disillusionment, dejection, and detesting of the landscape and people that will eventually follow.