Walter Dean Myers ' Monster : Does Prison Make Steve A Monster?

2116 Words Apr 22nd, 2016 9 Pages
Walter Dean Myers’ Monster: Does Prison Make Steve a Monster? Creep. Psycho. Thug. Monster. The moment a mugshot appears on the six o’clock news, viewers make assumptions about the person in the photo. In a court system based on the premise that all men are innocent until proven guilty, people are quick to assume the worst about each defendant before the trial begins. In Walter Dean Myers’ novel Monster, Steve Harmon is on trial for his alleged role in a robbery that ultimately led to the carry-out owner’s death. At sixteen years old, Steven’s entire life is in the hands of the jury who must decide if he participated as the lookout for the convenience store robbery that resulted in the owner’s death. Because the robbery led to a murder, Steve now faces a twenty-five year sentence. When Kathy O’Brien, the defense attorney, explains the court process to Steve, she states, “Half of those jurors, no matter what they said when we questioned them when we picked the jury, believed you were guilty the moment they laid eyes on you. You’re young, you’re Black, and you’re on trial. What else do they need to know?” (Myers 78-79). O’Brien makes it very clear to Steve that, despite his possible innocence, many members of the jury already consider him to be a “monster” simply because of society’s stereotypes about his appearance. While Myers deliberately leaves Steve’s innocence as ambiguous, an additional question that remains unanswered concerns Steve and his fellow…

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