Study Guide

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Rules and Order

By Robert Heinlein

Rules and Order

Here's the thing about rules: They can be pretty weak. Okay, we're not telling you anything new, are we? We're sure you've been in a situation or two when a rule said you had to do something you didn't think was right or correct. Chances are you didn't create the rule, either—someone who likely claims to know better than you did. But why should someone else be allowed to create the rules for you? If you've ever asked this question, then The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is for you.

This novel questions the legitimacy of society, especially government, having the power to enforce rules on everyone, and suggests that only an individual can create his or her own rules. But what happens when the government creates rules for individuals and those rules don't work out? That is what revolutions are for.

Questions About Rules and Order

  1. What is it about the Lunar Authority's rules that the Loonies disagree with? Do you think these are legitimate arguments? Why or why not?
  2. What character do you feel creates the most rules for other people? How do you read this character's role in the novel?
  3. Do the Loonies revolt against any rules that you think actually make sense? If yes, which ones and why do you think they make sense? If no, then explain why you think these rules should not be enforced.
  4. Consider a rule from your own life, and make sure it's one imposed on you by an authority figure. Do you agree that this person should have the right to impose that particular rule upon you or not? Explain your answer.

Chew on This

Under Prof's leadership, the Luna Congress attempts to pass several laws and regulations, but we only see them pass the Luna Declaration of Independence. It's the novel's way of hinting at the true purpose of a government body such as Congress.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress seems anti-law at first glance, but in truth, it is saying any law can be perfectly acceptable, so long as each individual person chooses to follow that law of their own volition.

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