The Moon is Down - Essay Questions

  1. Compare and contrast the roles of Colonel Lanser and Doctor Winter in the novel. How does memory function in Steinbeck’s depiction of these characters?
  2. At the opening and closing of the novel, Doctor Winter associates the invaders with time and machines. What is significant about this? How does it relate to the New World Order that the invaders, assuming they are Nazis, are attempting to force on other nations? Is there anything ironic about the town historian calling the invaders “time-minded”?
  3. Steinbeck took the title of The Moon Is Down from a line in Macbeth: “The moon is down; I have not heard the clock.” How does that connection shape your understanding of the novel?
  4. Jackson Benson writes that Steinbeck “applied the spirit of biological objectivity that he had developed with Ricketts in Sea of Cortez, along with certain aspects of his theory of the phalanx, to the situation in Europe.” Explore how Steinbeck adapts his phalanx theory for the wartime situation in The Moon Is Down.