Understanding The Moon is Down

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War affects 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 feel 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.
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