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Monster by Walter Dean Myers: the Fear and Suffering of a Teenage

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Monster, have you ever been called one? Have you ever been punished for something you didn’t do? Have you ever written a movie that relates to the situation that you are in? In the book called Monster written by Walter Dean Myers which is a historical fiction book about a 16-year-old named Steve Harmon is on trial for murder, he has been called by the people of his neighborhood a monster. As he’s on trial he is writing a script for his movie. Throughout the book he’s on trial and being continuingly asked if he was lookout for the murder, he knew James King who committed the crime and killed the owner Aguinaldo Nesbitt but knew James King very scarcely. The thing is that he wasn’t in the convenient store that day. By law the jury has to hold you innocent till proven guilty, but the problem with that is that in the book the jury is an all-white jury, they just see him as a 16-year-old black kid who might have robbed a convenient store and murdered the owner. They were not going to kill a 16-year-old but may put him in for a life sentence. When he was first convicted, he saw his life flash before him. By this time, he is mentally unstable and cannot really control his emotions. The only really thing that could help him cope with what he was experiencing was writing his script for his movie and talking with his disappointed, and teary-eyed parents. He went on trial the next day and they brought in a bunch of people, like the witness, the tattle tale, the tough guy, the guy who found the body, they brought the thug James King up to the stand to cry not guilty and finally Steve. The next thing that happens is horrifying to Steve. It’s his worst thought. He thought he was going in for life because his attorney told him that the trial could go either way. After the third meeting came the sentencing would happen. Everyone was waiting especially Steve’s mom; she was constantly praying for him hardly. By the end of the trial … James King was found guilty and Steve Harmon was found… innocent and he finished his movie.

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This book takes on many faces. Some of those faces are good vs evil, suffering, and judgment. One way it shows judgment is the people in Steve Harmon’s neighborhood started calling him a monster for someone spreading a rumor that he helped rob and kill the store owner Mr. Nesbitt. Another way Steve is judged throughout the story by Sandra Petrocelli who is the prosecutor, but judgment is most definitely shown when she makes the comment on page 21 “Most people in our community are decent, hardworking citizens who pursue their own interests legally and without infringing on others, but there are also monsters in or communities people who are willing to steal and to kill people who disregard the rights of others.” What her comment in Steve’s head meant that he was being accused of something he didn’t do and that his life could end right there, and that no one is safe. A way that good vs evil was shown was at the end of the book where the very on edge trial ended with James King going to jail and Steve Harmon free to publish his movie and smell fresh air for the first time in weeks. Finally, Steve suffered a great bit mentally more than physically. He mainly shows that he’s suffering at night because he says on page 1, “It’s better to cry at night when the lights are out, and someone is being beaten up and screaming for help. That way even if you sniffle a little, they won’t hear you.” This statement in his head was that when you cry at night no one can see you or hear you. He personally experienced this because in his head he thought he was going to spend the next 25 to 30 years in prison. The jail that Steve was put into was completely dark because they did not have any lights at nights, so all they could do if you cried is listen to you cry and talk about the way your crying sounded. Another time he suffered was when they were starting to sentence him and James King. As it states on page 271 Steve states, “Nothing is real around me except the panic.” Meaning he was scared that they were going to sentence him and let James free but to his surprise it was the other way around, and he got to walk.

I would encourage you to read this book because if you like historical fiction or a good old-fashioned story that seems like it could be true this is the book for you. I really liked this book because it perked my interest just by the name, and that it could be somewhat relatable not to the extent of going to jail but getting in trouble. The book perked my interest because it is back when they desegregated the schools and public places and it was a case where a 16 year old was convicted for something he didn’t do and that he stood before an all-white jury and he was brave enough to do that, because in his head he thought he was going to spend the rest of his life jail. Also, through all that he wrote a movie. He wrote a movie because he wanted to share the experience of what it as like to be a 16-year-old boy and go through jail and be faced by people who in their minds already found him guilty and to know what it’s like to have your life flash before you. You should read this book because somewhere you’ll find inspiration to stay out of trouble, to love every second of your free time, to love your parents, because just like that you an decide what your future will be. Which path will you chose?    

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