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Study Guide for Monster by Walter Dean Myers Summary

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ONLINE PLOT SYNOPSIS / ANALYSIS - MONSTER BY WALTER DEAN MYERS

THEMES

Introspection

The theme of introspection is one of the most prevalent themes. Steve must come to terms with who he really is and so his screenplay and his journal entries are a way to try to make sense of what he has done or hasn’t done in his life, and what has brought him to the point of prison. By the end of the story, his doubts and his fears about who he really is have not yet been completely resolved.

Peer Pressure

Another theme is peer pressure. This is especially seen in how Steve associates with young men he’s aware are less than savory individuals, and yet whom he is willing to be around. There is a sense that he needs to prove his manhood in some way by being with this “tough guys” in spite of the fact that they can bring disaster down upon him.

Young Black Men in Harlem

A third theme is that of young Black men in Harlem. The author is presenting the situation that exists for these boys who are growing up in the middle of poverty, crime, and hopelessness. They often make the wrong choices, because they have few positive role models, and they see themselves as destined for prison.




Race and the Justice System

A final important theme is that of race and the justice system. There is a sense that because Steve is young and black, he is “more likely” to have committed the crime in the eyes of the jurors. There is also the sense that if he has been arrested, he must have done it, because the police and the prosecution witnesses wouldn’t lie.


MOOD

The mood is very dark and filled with despair as we see Steve learn to cope with what may be the outcome of this trial. The mood doesn’t even change in the end, although he is acquitted, because he now must face the realization that his life is changed forever and that he doesn’t really know who he is anymore.


BIOGRAPHY - Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsburg, West Virginia. When he was a baby, his mother died and his father, who was extremely poor, felt it was best to give him to a foster family (The Deans) in New York (Harlem) that could care for him. As a child, Walter developed a great love for literature and poetry. He found reading books to be a way to escape to foreign lands and adventures outside of his own life. He loved the public library and spend much of his time there.

Walter had a speech problem, and though he was a good student, he dealt with this issue by being aggressive. In 1954, he dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Army when he was 17. After the Army, he worked several menial jobs and wrote at nights. He began writing articles for magazines and advertising. He heard of a contest by the Council on Interracial Books for Children and he entered his first book and won. That book was Where Does the Day Go? Summary

He has written many award winning young adult novels and continues to write prolifically. He has received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for his contribution to young adult literature and is a five time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award.

His many titles include Shooter; Bad Boy; A Memoir: Malcolm X; Hoops; A Fire Burning Brightly, the Caldecott Honor Book Harlem, and the Newbery Honor Books Scorpions and Somewhere in the Darkness. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, with his wife and three children.


HONORS AND AWARDS FOR MONSTER

Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature
Coretta Scott King Award
National Book Award Finalist

 

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