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“The Moon Is Down” - John Steinbeck – Plot and style

"The Moon Is Down" is a novel written by John Steinbeck in 1942.
In this novel, the author addresses the painful theme of the occupation of a small Norwegian country by the Nazis and the resulting resistance organized by the occupiers.
The drama represented in the novel invests victorious and victorious soldiers and civilians, the first prisoners of a code that forces them to silence every instinct of piety, every human weakness, the second equally conditioned by that concept of dignity that constitutes the last ability to maintain self-respect.

Plot

A small country is occupied by the Germans with the help of a traitor, what all the citizens so far considered a true benefactor. Strangely surprised, they experience a general disorientation, a kind of annihilation of the will and, above all, of their own identity, but then the dignity of being free men emerges, and there is a war not only of war, but also of psychology towards the invaders who slowly they find themselves not war machines, but men, with their weaknesses and their fears. In this context, the most prominent characters the writer attributes to the task of carrying on his message are, on the one hand, German Colonel Lanser, who is debated between the absurdity of the orders received and the contrasts of his conscience. He does not fail to do his duty, but gradually falls into him the desperation of carrying out bloody actions that he finds uselessly useless, maturing a growing appreciation of the mayor, well differently motivated by the need to make a point of reference for his fellow citizens without hesitation or temptation, even reaching personal sacrifice. There are two men in antipathy, but if the German is aware of the progressive loss of its dignity, the Norwegian is aware of its gradual repurchase. There is a tragic sadness on the whole, that of the occupants, who in their indoctrination believed that they were greeted festively, and who, on the other hand, were forced to watch over fear of the attacks; that of busy citizens who cannot tolerate losing their freedom and who intend to resume it at any cost.

Style

Despite the delicate and violent theme of the novel, Steinbeck uses a simple and agile language, replacing a raw and violent style, thus showing a great narrative wisdom. The stylistic choice of simplicity, in fact, exalts the tragedy of the oppressed and proves the best choice to convey a fundamental message: the need for freedom is universal. The writer has been able to probe the human soul by inserting his research into a social context, through an interdependence that takes place in a double flow: from single man to community and from this still to single man. Steinbeck has well understood that everyone's inner aspects are socially reflected and that individual behaviour is always influenced by the context in which the individual works.

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