Study Guide

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Violence

By Robert Heinlein

Violence

There is no such thing as a bloodless revolution. The Bloodless Revolution of 1688, a.k.a. the Glorious Revolution, was misnamed—soldiers did die, albeit very few. Even the Coldplay song "BloodlessRevolution" had some of its listeners bleeding from the ears.

In The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,the insurrection on Luna is no exception, joining the long list of not-so-bloodless revolutions. Importantly, though, Luna is a society of violence even before the revolution. Duels are a way to settle Loonie debates, and men can kill each other without repercussions so long as the victim has it coming. Violence is simply a fact of Luna life, and any act of violence seems justifiable within Luna customs—so long as it is committed by a Loonie, that is.

Questions About Violence

  1. The novel depicts Luna as a place where violence is only used justifiably. Do you agree that a society like Luna would have such a pristine track record? Why or why not? Is Luna's track record as pristine as the Loonies think it is?
  2. Whom would you say is the most violent character in the novel? What do this character's actions tell you about this theme in the novel?
  3. In a novel full of violent acts, is any violence seen as completely horrible? If yes, what act and what does this tell you about the theme? If not, then what does this tell you about the novel?

Chew on This

Despite a society where violence is the norm, the Loonies attempt to wage as blood-free a war against Earth as possible by launching rocks into uninhabited zones. In doing so, they are trying to respect Earth's rules on violence rather than their own.

The major source of violence on Luna is not the Loonies, but the environment.

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