What kind of novel is written as a play expressing all that a character endures? In the novel Monster by Walter Dean Myers, you can view this odd but distinctive format. Steve Harmon, the protagonist, is on trial for murder and is accused of being a lookout for the actual men who committed a robbery from the drugstore.
In the trouble of doing so, they killed the store owner. As he narrates in a unique form of a screenplay and journal entries, Steve faces the trial and the scary future of living in prison for the rest of his life. The trial not only determines his near future but shapes his life. Monster by Walter Dean Myers should be considered for the Herricks High School curriculum, because the unique perspective of Steve makes the reader understand all that he endures and because of the concurrent themes of betrayal and facing reality transform his life. This perspective is something that is lacking in the curriculum, from a teenage African boy who is on trial. This perspective will add to diversity to the curriculum. The form this novel is written in is in a unique way.
One in which it sets apart from other novels. The sentences are short and jump around from one thought to another. As I was reading it felt as if I were present with Steve in the courtroom. When someone is panicked it is human nature to jump ahead and think about what is to come. This structure was perfect for this novel and easy to follow through and experience the trial as if we were there.
“They think they relate because the characters are like them” (readingrockets). Throughout the novel from one scene to another it as if Steve is in front of the reader and talking by repeating words and ideas as if he was scared. Myers accomplishes something remarkable by being able to connect with the readers. As the trial begins Steve is desperate to find a loophole. Like any teenager, Steve tries to defer himself from citation and tries to put the blame on someone else. He is confounded and still unable to accept to accept the fact he can be going to jail.
Steve feels he has betrayed himself and all that he stands for knowing all so well he is unable to take back what he did. As Steve is on trial, the prosecutor asks him, “You’re in trouble, you’d do pretty much anything to get out of trouble, wouldn’t you? And when I say anything, I mean tell lies, get other people in trouble, anything? (41) Not only is Steve willing to go to great lengths to escape the situation but do anything at any cost to regain his freedom. He doesn’t know what to do since he has never been in a position like this before. He has to face reality and the consequences that come along with it.Steve might be seen as at fault but he is not a monster. Steve’s father calls him a monster, he doesn’t recognize his own son anymore. Even his own father suspects him of murder, he can’t find a way to prove his innocence. Steve made a mistake associating himself with the wrong kind of people and now he is facing the consequences.
He might have done something wrong but he did not murder someone. In order to highlight this troublesome story of Steve, it must find a place in the curriculum. Even though it might be emotionally intense for some it is the truth about life and insecurities that everyone has to face. This is viewpoint makes the student feel as if they can relate to someone facing hardships knowing they are not going through life alone. Being a teenage boy Steve is a relatable character for most high school students. As Steve describes his journey from the trial room to prison he tries to understand the consequences he needs to face. Steve is a shy, self-consciousness individual.
As he is sitting in the courtroom he thinks to himself, “I don’t feel like I’m involved in the case. It’s like the lawyers and the judge and everybody are doing a job that involves me, but I don’t have a role (84). Often Steve is undermined because of his race not being able to defend himself and prove his innocence to the jurors. He keeps to himself and is like a ghost standing outside and watches everything as it happens. But “It’s only when I go back to the cells that I know I’m involved” (132).
When he spends time in prison he comes to the realization that he is a monster. Steve expresses his fear for the future and tries to find himself as he is lost in prison. As reality hits when he returns to prison he regrets his past actions trying to find his identity.Not only is the “story inspiring for children” (nydailynews) it teaches simple lessons which will help understand the complexity of life. Steve does not have to return to prison again he is overjoyed, but still knowing he needs to work on himself and needs to find his identity. Steve overcomes the fear of living in prison but the greater fear still remains of finding who he really is the world that surrounds him in hope to face reality with confidence.
The trial not only transformed the present Steve but also the future Steve. He has endured a lot but still knows the task that remains. This book adds diversity to the different types of voices that Herricks Students encounter. Not only does it make the curriculum more diverse being able to understand the different viewpoints of others but also understand the how quickly an incident can transform someone.