Study Guide for Monster by Walter Dean Myers Summary|
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BOOK NOTES - MONSTER BY WALTER DEAN MYERS
This journal entry is one of self-exploration for Steve. He insists
he’s a good person, but he sounds too much like he’s trying to convince
himself. He worries about what others think of him, including his lawyer,
his mother, and even some school children in the courtroom. He comes to
the conclusion that the fear he deals with each day in the detention center
is so great that a criminal like James King no longer has the ability
to scare him. All of these examples show how much he has really changed
in the short time he has been on trial for murder.
Back in the courtroom, a pretty black juror is smiling. Steve returns her smile, but she stops smiling and turns away. Steve puts his head down on the table in despair at which point O’Brien pulls him up, telling him that if he gives up, the jury will give up on him. He holds his head back up, but there are tears on his face.
Osvaldo’s testimony continues. He tells the jury that Bobo had told him the place was all lined up and that his job was to slow anyone down who came after them. He was going to push a garbage can in front of them. He then goes on to say much to Petrocelli’s satisfaction that Bobo had explained that he and James King were going into the store while Steve Harmon’s job was to be the lookout. Everybody involved was supposed to share in the money stolen. Osvaldo insists, however, that he wasn’t involved for the money, but rather because he feared Bobo. He also admits that he’s testifying because of a deal the prosecution had given him.
Briggs cross examines Osvaldo and emphasizes in his questions that once again, the witness is only saying what he is because he’d do anything to get out of trouble. He also points out that Osvaldo’s insistence that he’s telling the truth makes no sense coming from someone who would holdup a drugstore. When O’Brien cross-examines him, she asks him how he was apprehended. The witness explains that his girlfriend called the police after they had a fight. He lies when she asks him if he belongs to a gang and has to backpedal and characterize the lie as a mistake. He is also forced to admit how he became a member of the Diablos - he has to leave his mark on someone, which means slashing their face. She continues to reduce the effect of his testimony by emphasizing that he never feared fighting a member of the Diablos to get into the gang, he never feared cutting a stranger’s face, and he never feared beating up his girlfriend, but he claims he fears Bobo.
The scene switches now to the visitors’ area of the detention center
where Steve is visiting with his father. Mr. Harmon tells him that his
lawyer has told him the trial isn’t going well. “There’s so much garbage
going through that courtroom . . . that anybody in there is going to have
a stink on him.” Steve tells him father that O’Brien is going to put him
on the stand to tell his side of the story. He says he’s going to tell
the truth - he didn’t do anything wrong. There is a tense moment after
these words, which prompts Steve to ask his father if he believes that.
His father begins to cry and tells his son how he would lie in bed when
Steve was first born and imagine scenes of the boy’s life. In all of his
imaginings, he’d never thought his own son would be in any kind of trouble.
Steve searches his father’s face for the reassurance he’s always seen
there, but it’s obvious that he can’t find it. Steve begins to cry also,
but his father can only murmur words of hope since he’s not allowed to
touch his son. As the scene fades, there is only the sound of his father’s
There is juxtaposition here of two different young men - Osvaldo, age 14 and Steve, age 16. Osvaldo is a member of a gang, has impregnated his girlfriend, beats her up, and willingly joins in on this robbery/murder. Steve is a relatively decent young kid whose never been in trouble and now may have made some questionable decisions which are impacting deeply on his family. Osvaldo comes across as a liar, who is out to get himself out of trouble by turning on others. However, Steve may be a liar, too, and his own father, who obviously loves him very much, even doubts him.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Monster".
. 12 May 2008