This book was hard for me to read and follow at first because it is different from books that I’ve read over the years. The way it is written, in the form of a movie script, is something that I’m not familiar with in a text like this. I expected this book to be written like other books—in a simple, neat form of writing instead of something complex. However, the book flowed once I was able to organize the characters and separate them based on the side of the bench they were on.
In the book, Monster, a young black male (Steve Harmon) is on trail for the murder of an owner of a drugstore and because he is acquaintances with the other suspects, he is automatically assumed to be guilty. However, the truth is that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and since he’s a young black male, he’s guilty in the eyes of the law. I think Myers depiction of stereotypes that young black males, and black men in general, face is done in a deliberate way. Black men are seen as these angry, big vicious beasts with the intent to harm anyone who is near, which isn’t true. It is a stereotype meant to instill fear in others and it causes the person(s), who is being stereotyped, to be excluded as though they’re not human too. The way young black males are portrayed as a stereotype in the book, is the same way they are portrayed in the media—guilty until proven to be innocent.
The system of law was created to serve and protect the citizens; however, this is not the case for everyone. Not only are young black males seen as guilty in the eyes of the law, but Hispanic males are seen as the same—guilty until proven to be innocent. Steve is only 16, yet he is placed in an adult prison instead of in juvenile detention, which wasn’t very surprising to me. Black men lose their voice once they are in the hands of the law, and Steve loses his when he is locked behind his prison cell. Steve’s fate is in the hands of the law and much like other black males, it can only end two ways: a long prison sentence or death.
If the eyes of the law could define the definition of “monster” then I believe it would be: black male. Why? Because black males are reduced to the likes of animals and it fits their description of what society thinks an animal is—big angry, vicious beasts.