The Moon is Down: The Effects of War


War effects everyone involved. The conquerors and those being
conquered. War is a struggle that is internal and external. Man can be a
dedicated and loyal soldier for only so much at a time. He then longs for
laughter, music, girls, a good meal and more. In The Moon is Down, the
soldiers get the need to return home. They begin to doubt what they are
doing and if they are being told the truth. They become uneasy when the
enemy doesn't talk to them. The townspeople's hatred is growing. They
remained indoors and stared from behind curtains while the patrol walked
through the town.

Lieutenant Tonder was a romantic naive poet who felt the enemy should
love him. Steinbeck presented Tonder as "a bitter poet who dreamed of
perfect, ideal love of elevated young men for poor girls" (25).

When Lieutenant Tonder first arrived in town he thought that it was a
nice country with nice people. Tonder says, "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). The war was not ending as quickly as
Tonder expected. The townspeople had become the silent enemies of the
soldiers or the townspeople became silent waiting for revenge. "Now it was
the conqueror was surrounded, the men of the battalion alone among silent
enemies, and no man might relax his guard for even a moment" (65). The
soldiers now have only each other to talk to and Tonder longed to go home.
"The men of the battalion came to detest the place they had conquered,...
and gradually a little fear began to grow in the conquerors, a fear that it
would never be over" (65-66). In war, as time goes on fear begins to
settle on soldiers. "Thus it came about that the conquerors grew afraid of
the conquered and their nerves wore thin and they shot at shadows in the
night" (66-67). Tonder starts to doubt the honesty of his fellow Germans
Tonder says, "If anything happened- at home, I mean - do you think they
would let us know...well, I would like to get out of this god-forsaken
hole!" (70-71). Tonder felt at first that this town had nice, pleasant
people but as time moved on, he changed his views. "These people! These
horrible people! These cold people! They never look at you. They never
speak. They answer like dead men. They obey, these horrible people. And
the girls are frozen" (71). Tonder who once felt the enemy should love
him, now fears the enemy. Tonder starts losing control and says, "The
enemy's everywhere! Every man, every women, even children! The enemy's
everywhere" (72). Tonder who once wanted to settle in this town now longs
to go home. Tonder says, "I mean this: we'll be going home before long
won't we?" (75). Tonder is questioning if the town there are in has been
conquered. Tonder states, "Conquered and we're surrounded! (77). "Tonder
already upset loses control and suggests to Joseph that the `leader' is
crazy, that the war will never end, and hysterically avows that the `flies
conquer the flypaper'" (Clancy 104). In Tonder's loneliness he visits
Molly Morden. "Can you understand this - can you believe this? Just for a
little while, can't we forget this war?... can't we talk together like
people - together?" (83). Tonder's longings of dying on the battlefield
come true when Molly kills him with her knitting needles.

Colonel Lanser is the leader of the invaders. He would execute any
Nazi order. Colonel Lanser asks the townspeople to be cooperative.
Charles J. Clancy states, "Annie scalds some soldiers on the rear porch,
and Lanser excuses her conduct in an effect to get Mayor Orden's
cooperation" (103). Lanser doesn't understand why all people don't follow
orders. He as a soldier is expected to carry our and follow orders. His
life as a Colonel would be simple if everyone followed orders. He hoped in
his mind that this war would not be like the last war. "Lanser told
himself he was a soldier, given orders to carry out ... he tried to put
aside the sick memories of the other war and the certainty that this would
be the same" (27). The people being invaded will not cooperate and
therefore Colonel Lanser's job will be difficult. Lanser says, "We must
get the coal. If your people are not orderly, we will have to restore that
order by force" (54).