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American Prison And Judicial System In Walter Dean Myers's Monster

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At any given time, thousands of minors under 18 are placed in the American prison and judicial system. Many of them are like Steve Harmon, the protagonist of Walter Dean Myers’ novel Monster. Monster is a complex look at the American prison and judicial system. The novel follows Steve Harmon, a 16 year old on trial for felony murder. In jail, Steve stays quiet and writes in his journal, trying to avoid confrontation. In court, he and his attorney work to gain the jury’s favor in order to have Steve found innocent, which he is, at the conclusion of the novel. Based on statistics, though it should be noted that Steve’s not guilty plea is unlikely, Monster accurately portrays a real life experience in the American prison and judicial system by including violence in jail, the possibility of severe punishment, and a racial makeup similar to that of an American prison. While in jail, Steve is surrounded by violence, true to the experience of innumerable others in a similar situation. One instance where Steve experiences this is on the second page of Monster when he writes “This morning at breakfast a guy got hit in the face with a tray. Somebody said some little thing and somebody else got mad. There was blood all over …show more content…
His inclusions of violence in prison, severe consequences, and a predominant ratio of people of color in the novel allow Monster to connect a real life experience of someone like Steve. Although some parts of Steve’s story are unlikely, such as his plea of not guilty, Monster still offers an inside view into the polluted American prison and judicial system. When asked what he would like readers to take away from Monster, Walter Dean Myers said “I would like young people to consider what happened to Steve Harmon, as well as why.” By making connections from his fictional story to real life, Myers’ is successful in giving readers a story worth reflecting

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