The main character in the novel Monster by Walter Dean Myers is 16-year-old Steve Harmon who has been arrested and put on trial for his part in a robbery in which a convenience store owner was killed. A question that people can ask while reading this novel is, was Steve Harmon truly the lookout for the convenience story robbery or was he in the wrong place at the wrong time? Regardless, he has been arrested for his part in the crime that led to the killing of the store’s owner. Through his journal writings and his movie scripts, complete with stage directions, Steve shares his story of his observations of what he sees and hears from his prison cell, and his fears as he is placed on trial and possibly facing 25 years to life in prison. During the novel there has been given pretty much all-different kinds of evidence.
We know that Steve was in the store the day of the killing, and that he had discussed his role with James King. Steve says he did not signal the others, they say he did. We are never shown directly what happened when Steve emerged from the store. Steve’s own father and his defence attorney both seem to have doubts about his innocence. Under the law, if he conspired with others to commit a felony (the robbery), and someone dies in the course of that felony (no matter how the death occurs), all of the conspirators may be guilty of felony murder. So there are hints that he may be guilty.
On the other hand, we have ample testimony that he is basically a good kid. His teacher, his mother, his relationship with his little brother. His journal, Steve writes: .I want to look like a good person. I want to feel like I’m a good person because I believe I am. But being in here with these guys makes it hard to think about you as being different. We look about the same, and even though I’m younger than they are, it’s hard not to notice that we are all pretty young. . We don’t see him actually agree to take part; just that he was present when the job was planned. If we believe that his job was to signal the others that the coast was clear, we have to accept no signal, was the signal.
Additionally, there is the question of proportionate punishment. Even though some may conclude that he is guilty under the law, life in prison seems a pretty stiff penalty for a first offence, when he himself wasn’t even present at the time the killing occurred. When the lawyer made there final statement, the judge was ready to make his statement. The judge said that Mr. King is guilty and that Steve is found not guilty. After that statement he looked over to his attorney (Ms. O’Brien) and wanted to thank her for her help but she just ignored him.
At this point it shows that Steve’s attorney had a lot of doubt about Steve being jollity or not. Steve’s sense of his self-identity is further strained when he realizes that his father is no longer sure of whom he is. After the trial When Steve asks his father if he believes him that he did nothing wrong, His father is unable to give him the reassurance he asks for. After this happens Steve goes to his room and think to him self what did O’Brien see in me? Does she really think I’m a monster?
This film contains racial prejudice in nearly every 10 pages. The fact that a black boy had supposedly committed this crime made the judge more inclined to punish him because of is racial background. Steve is a good boy I my personal opinion, he is not a rock hard solid gym buff, who deals Cocaine part time, but a young black man trying to bypass what the whole of America thinks of him because of his skin colour. I believe Steve matures a lot during this novel, a personal life experience that some one of his sensitive nature has not experienced, he takes home a lot of maturity and pride.
The book Monster by Walter Dean Myers relates to my life and other’s today because in the book Steve conformed to society’s expectations and was a sheep to his acquaintances, which relates to me a fair while ago, because not to long ago I followed my friends and did what they did even though sometimes it wasn’t the right thing to do, these types of situations can have many consequences. Another way this novel relates to me is the time when he always had flashbacks of himself being with his brother.
Those segments of the novel, just made me think how important my sister is to me when she is not around. I guess it is just that feeling: it doesn’t matter how much you hate her when she threw out your jeans with your wallet in the hip pocket, the next day she is always going to be your sister, its just unconditional love I guess (blushes).
The situations I can relate is the basic plot of the book, tying to prove that you are innocent and no one believes you. I myself were in that situation when one day I was walking to garden city through a laneway and GRAB, a police officer had grabbed me a threw me to the ground, I was completely and utterly dumbfounded. After regaining myself and had my head, all I could feel was the police officers knees against my back, my head pressed against the ground. I was in such an awkward position that all of the officer’s pressure was against back thus pushing my diaphragm against solid concrete, he pulled my up and I inhaled air that I was desperately lacking.
Another officer approached me whilst the other was holding me and said “young man you have just committed vandalism and will be charged with damage of private property, in the meantime I was screaming “You have the wrong guy, what did I do wrong?” Like a 12 year old school girl. Apparently I had done graffiti tagging on some old mans wall; they searched me and began the questions. After five minutes of me professing my innocence, another police officer approached from another police car, and said, “Let him go, wrong guy, we caught the bastard down the road”. After taking my details and apologizing they finally let me go. This was one experience I hope to forget.
The lesson that I learned most from this novel is that you shouldn’t follow your friends you should be your own person and make your own decisions in life. Another lesson is to think about what you’re doing before you do it make sure what your doing is right.
Courtney from Study Moose
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