Rhetorical Strategies in The Moon is Down

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Identifying Rhetorical Strategies in The Moon is Down

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Activity Overview


In high school, the ELA Common Core Standards require students to develop formal writing skills, creating essays and arguments that are well-thought-out, and syntactically varied. They also require students to effectively use persuasive writing strategies to defend a claim or point of view.

A key to strong persuasive writing the ability to dissect and validate, or debunk, other arguments. This requires a basic working knowledge of rhetoric. A great way to enhance students' understanding of effective arguments is to teach the Aristotelian concepts of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Students can then identify and analyze the effectiveness of these strategies in a work of literature, a speech, or a letter.

The Moon is Down was written to encourage the resistances of occupied countries to rise up and fight against the Nazi forces during World War II. It is a noble cause, and an honorable effort, according to most Americans. However, to look at the novel from an historical standpoint, it actually was a piece of pro-Democracy propaganda, and it was a very successful one. The novel’s ability to sway its readers emotionally, ethically, and logically is what gave it so much power then, and why it’s endured as a popular piece for the enduring ideals of freedom and democracy for so long. Have students examine the text and come up with quotes from throughout the novel of Ethos, Logos, and Pathos rhetoric. Have students illustrate these examples in a storyboard.

Examples of Rhetorical Strategies in The Moon is Down


Ethos (Ethics/Credibility)

Example 1

"They elected me not to be confused. Six town boys were murdered this morning. I think we will have no hunt breakfast. The people do not fight wars for sport."

– Mayor Orden

Example 2

"In all the world, yours is the only government and people with a record of defeat after defeat for centuries and every time because you did not understand people."

– Mayor Orden


Logos (Logic)

Example 1

"This principle does not work. First, I am the Mayor. I have no right to pass sentence of death. There is no one in this community with that right. If I should do it, I would be breaking the law as much as you."

– Mayor Orden

Example 2

"...but we are a free people; we have as many heads as we have people, and in a time of need leaders pop up among us like mushrooms."

– Doctor Winter


Pathos (Emotions)

Example 1

"Alex, go, knowing that these men will have no rest, no rest at all until they are gone, or dead. You will make the people one."

– Mayor Orden

Example 2

"The people don’t like to be conquered, sir, and so they will not be. Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat. Herd men, followers of a leader, cannot do that, and so it is always the herd men who win battles and the free men who win wars."

– Mayor Orden


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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows examples of ethos, pathos, and logos from the text.


  1. Identify two examples for each rhetorical strategy: ethos, pathos, and logos.
  2. Type the example into the description box under the cell.
  3. Illustrate the examples using any combination of scenes, characters, and items.
Ethos Pathos Logos Template 2

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