Study Guide

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Traditions and Customs

By Robert Heinlein

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Traditions and Customs

If you've ever been to a country that isn't your native one, you might have experience something called culture shock—you know, the jittery, agitated feeling one gets when everything around them is suddenly different. Ever found yourself in another country's bathroom wondering how to use the toilet? Then you've experienced a mild form of the phenomenon.

As awkward as culture shock may be, people who manage to overcome it often confess to learning to appreciate the uniqueness of the human experience, and also to considering their own culture more critically. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is basically a dose of culture shock found at your local library. The Loonies' traditions, customs, and principles will jar you at first—it can be a trippy trip—but as you explore the novel, you'll find yourself questioning your own social norms. And it's good to question things from time to time, Shmoopers.

Questions About Traditions and Customs

  1. Which Loonie custom makes the most sense to you? Would you like to see that custom implemented here on Earth? Why or why not? While we're at it, which Loonie custom makes the least sense to you? Why do you disagree with this custom and what would you consider a better alternative?
  2. Mannie argues that Luna society has replaced written laws with customs derived from natural laws. Do you think this is a good idea? Why or why not?
  3. Take a custom from your own family or culture. How and why do you think this custom has evolved given your culture's history, environment, and values?

Chew on This

On Luna, customs take the place of laws, improving on law by being derived from natural law instead of anything written.

Luna customs have the concepts of free market and family equally at their core.

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