Monster Study Guide

Journal Entry #8 - Sunday, July 12th

Steve goes to breakfast on Sunday, something most of the inmates don’t do. So he gets more than enough to eat. One of the workers who fills his tray smiles at him, but Steve doesn’t respond in kind, because in there, you don’t smile back at people who smile at you. He also goes to church services where a fight breaks out. He is struck by how calm the guards are about the fight as if they don’t really care if the two guys are fighting or not. He comes to the conclusion that there are lots of fights in there, because it’s just the surface stuff - how someone looks at you or what they say - that the inmates have going for them. So they fight to protect it. There’s a baseball game playing on TV, but to Steve, it doesn’t look real, because that world is so different from the one where he lives.

Later, Jerry and Steve’s parents come to visit. Steve wants to tell his brother that he loves him, but unlike the Bible passage that his mother had marked, he isn’t greatly rejoicing or singing praises. His mother comes in with her eyes smiling, but her voice cracks. It makes Steve feel like she is mourning him as if he were dead. After they leave, he turns once more to working on his movie. It is something he needs more and more as a better reality than what he is leading. He desperately wishes everything was just a movie. He is very aware that Monday the prosecution will present their star witnesses.


Notes

Sunday in the detention center is filled with a total lack of reality for Steve. He can’t respond to s a simple smile. He must endure fighting even in church. A baseball game seems like another world, another reality. His mother acts as if he is already dead. And he desperately wishes everything he is experiencing is just a movie he is watching.

Monday, July 13th

The day begins with the lawyers and the judges cracking jokes at the bench. Then the State calls its first witness - a woman named Lorelle Henry. She turns out to be a grandmother who had gone to the drugstore for cold medication for her granddaughter. She happened to be in the store when the crime went down. She testifies that she saw one of the two men who came the store begin to argue with Mr. Nesbitt. The same man grabbed the owner’s collar and Mrs. Henry left immediately, fearing there would trouble. She identifies the man she saw arguing with Mr. Nesbitt as James King. However, in the course of the cross examination, it becomes possible that the police led Mrs. Henry into choosing James by limiting the number of pictures she looked at and only putting six men in the line-up. She hadn’t been able to identify him at first. O’Brien has no questions for her.

Then, Steve hears Asa Briggs tell James that he should take notes when the next witness is called. He should write down any questions he might want to ask him. This will make it look like they are challenging him while he testifies. The next witness is Bobo Evans who comes into the courtroom in his orange prison uniform. Briggs objects to his appearance in a sidebar with the judge, because it will make James look like he’s connected to an admitted criminal. The judge disregards the objection, because he thinks he’s a basket case.

Bobo testifies that he’s known James King a long time, but that he just met Steve before the robbery went down. He says he is presently serving 7 and a half to 10 years for selling drugs, breaking and entering, grand theft auto, taking a car radio, and fighting guy who later died. He then goes on to tell about the drugstore robbery and the murder of Mr. Nesbitt. He then says that he and King went inside and that Steve was the lookout. He says King tried to get the gun from Mr. Nesbitt while he went to the register for the money. He heard the gun go off, saw the victim fall, and realized King had the gun. Then, they grabbed some cigarettes and left. Just he and King left and they didn’t hear that Mr. Nesbitt had died until later that night. They spent some of the money on friend chicken and wedgies and then split the rest of it. He also says that both Osvaldo and Steve were supposed to get some of the money. When asked what sign Steve had given them, Bobo says he didn’t give any sign, so they assumed it was alright to go inside the store. King later told Bobo that he to kill Nesbitt, because he was muscling him and was strong for an old man.

Later, Bobo sold some of the cigarettes to Wendell Bolden who sold some to a white boy who told the police. He was busted in a sting operation and then accepted a plea that dropped his time in prison to 10 to 15 years.

On cross examination, Briggs tries to undermine Bobo’s credibility by pointing out that he is a drug dealer and thief who watched a man get killed and then went to eat fast food. He also points out that Bobo is the only one who admits being in the store which makes Bobo blame King, because King was the one who shot the owner of the store putting Bobo in this mess. When O’Brien questions him, he admits that he never spoke to Steve, saying that was King’s job. She also gets him to admit that he had no idea what the signals were that Steve was supposed to have given. Bobo insists that Osvaldo wanted in on the deal and that he had never coerced him into it. He says he never saw Lorraine Henry, which prompts O’Brien to wonder if he really saw anything. She emphasizes that his deal with the Prosecution depends on him admitting he was there, but he never to anyone but King after the crime was committed. He finally testifies that he knew that they were supposed to wait until Steve came out, but he never spoke to him before or after. They decided to lay low because of the death, but intended to share the money after awhile. He doesn’t know whether king gave anything to the other two.

Then the camera moves in for a close-up of a juror - a middle aged man who stares at the camera for a long time as if he’s looking at Steve. When the camera turns away, it’s as if Steve has turned away from the accusing stare.

The Prosecution rests. Steve then imagines in his screenplay a cartoon city with a small cartoon man looking out his window. He shouts, “The People rest!” and all the cartoon characters screech to a halt and everybody sleeps. Then the judge orders the jury dismissed for the day and the Defense will begin their case in the morning. The last scene is of Steve’s mother talking in a distraught manner to Miss O’Brien.

Notes

Mrs. Henry’s testimony is damaging to James King, but Bobo’s testimony hurts Steve. Even though he never talked to Steve, the fact that he knew the young man was supposed to give them a sign is damaging. O’Brien skillfully makes Bobo look like someone who really didn’t know what went down that day and was coached by the Prosecution. It reinforces the point the author has subtly referred to throughout the novel: Prosecutors are willing to take the word of criminal witnesses who are motivated to lie or be coached in their testimony in order to make a deal concerning their own prison time.

The juror who seems to look at Steve in such an accusatory manner is perhaps foreshadowing of worse things to come. The use of cartoon figures to indicate the People rest their case is symbolic of how much of joke trials like these are.

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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Monster". TheBestNotes.com. . 09 May 2017
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