Moon Is Down Celebrates Freedom

Tuscany village

John Steinbeck’s The Moon is Down, a tale about life in an occupied country, is as timely today as it was when in 1942.

An invading army captures a European town in a matter of minutes, meeting minimal resistance, thanks to meticulous planning and help from a respected local businessman.

The youthful soldiers think that because the invasion was so easy, the occupation will be easy too. General Lanser knows better.  He knows the locals will rebel against the army of occupation.  He knows, too, that the way the military deals with rebels creates even greater resistance.  He would prefer to control the town by manipulating the mayor.

The mayor, however, sees himself as an instrument of the people, not their ruler.  After the army executes a miner for refusing to dig coal, the mayor quietly helps his people organize a resistance movement. “Free men…can fight on in defeat,” he says.

As Lanser feared, the army orders him to execute hostages to punish resistance.  He starts with the mayor.

Steinbeck draws his characters with swift, sure strokes, telling just enough, letting the cast reveal the rest of what readers must know.  The plot is carefully constructed; the action moves swiftly, inevitably to the climax.

The Moon is Down
John Steinbeck
Viking, 1942
188 pages
1942 Bestseller #2
My Grade: A

Photo credit: “Tuscany” uploaded by Prootman http://www.sxc.hu/photo/866487

© 2012 Linda Gorton Aragoni