Study Guide

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Manipulation

By Robert Heinlein

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In The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, profit comes from about every form of manipulation you can imagine: propaganda, coercion, money laundering, voter fraud, and just flat out lying to round things out. Surprisingly, it's not so much the Lunar Authority who deals in manipulation, but our revolutionary heroes, especially Mike and Professor Paz, who manipulate the very people they claim to be fighting for.

So what's the novel trying to say about manipulation if it is present on both sides of the conflict coin? Is it saying that manipulation is necessary to survive? That he who manipulates best ultimately wins at life? Or that politics corrupt absolutely? We're not sure what the answer is, but we're sure the discussion will be fun all the same.

Questions About Manipulation

  1. Do you think the Prof and Mike's manipulation of Luna society—such as propaganda and money laundering—is ultimately justifiable? Why or why not?
  2. Which character do you think is the most manipulative? What does he or she tell you about this theme in the novel?
  3. How does the Chairman try to manipulate Mannie? How does Mannie manipulate the system for his own benefit? Comparing and contrasting these two characters, how does this affect your understanding of this theme in the novel?

Chew on This

The Luna Revolution is won through politics and combat, in both cases thanks to the art of manipulation.

The average Loonie does not gain additional freedom as a result of the revolution. Because of Mike and Prof's manipulation, only the revolutionaries at the top actually receive more freedom.

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