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Effects Of War In Steinbeck's "The Moon Is Down"

1732 words - 7 pages

War effects everyone involved. The conquerors and those beingconquered. War is a struggle that is internal and external. Man can be adedicated and loyal soldier for only so much at a time. He then longs forlaughter, music, girls, a good meal and more. In The Moon is Down, thesoldiers get the need to return home. They begin to doubt what they aredoing and if they are being told the truth. They become uneasy when theenemy doesn't talk to them. The townspeople's hatred is growing. Theyremained indoors and stared from behind curtains while the patrol walkedthrough the town.Lieutenant Tonder was a romantic naive poet who felt the enemy shouldlove him. Steinbeck presented Tonder as "a bitter poet who dreamed ofperfect, ideal love of elevated young men for poor girls" (25).When Lieutenant Tonder first arrived in town he thought that it was anice country with nice people. Tonder says, "There are some beautifulfarms here. If four or five of them were thrown together, it would be anice place to settle, I think" (34). The war was not ending as quickly asTonder expected. The townspeople had become the silent enemies of thesoldiers or the townspeople became silent waiting for revenge. "Now it wasthe conqueror was surrounded, the men of the battalion alone among silentenemies, and no man might relax his guard for even a moment" (65). Thesoldiers 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 itwould never be over" (65-66). In war, as time goes on fear begins tosettle on soldiers. "Thus it came about that the conquerors grew afraid ofthe conquered and their nerves wore thin and they shot at shadows in thenight" (66-67). Tonder starts to doubt the honesty of his fellow GermansTonder says, "If anything happened- at home, I mean - do you think theywould let us know...well, I would like to get out of this god-forsakenhole!" (70-71). Tonder felt at first that this town had nice, pleasantpeople but as time moved on, he changed his views. "These people! Thesehorrible people! These cold people! They never look at you. They neverspeak. They answer like dead men. They obey, these horrible people. Andthe girls are frozen" (71). Tonder who once felt the enemy should lovehim, now fears the enemy. Tonder starts losing control and says, "Theenemy's everywhere! Every man, every women, even children! The enemy'severywhere" (72). Tonder who once wanted to settle in this town now longsto go home. Tonder says, "I mean this: we'll be going home before longwon't we?" (75). Tonder is questioning if the town there are in has beenconquered. Tonder states, "Conquered and we're surrounded! (77). "Tonderalready upset loses control and suggests to Joseph that the `leader' iscrazy, that the war will never end, and hysterically avows that the `fliesconquer the flypaper'" (Clancy 104). In Tonder's loneliness he visitsMolly Morden....

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