How did prison change Steve Harmon in the book Monster?

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During his time in jail, Steve Harmon becomes more and more accepting of the fact that he committed a crime and starts to believe that he is, in fact, a monster. Even his own lawyer—the only person throughout the trial who shows him kindness—sometimes looks at him like he's inhuman....

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During his time in jail, Steve Harmon becomes more and more accepting of the fact that he committed a crime and starts to believe that he is, in fact, a monster. Even his own lawyer—the only person throughout the trial who shows him kindness—sometimes looks at him like he's inhuman. The more time he spends in jail with other young, violent men, the more depressed Steve becomes: and the more desperate. He doesn't want to spend the rest of his life in prison, but is it better than death?

At one point in the book, Steve even contemplates suicide but thinks better of it after his parents visit him. They remind him that, no matter what, he is not a monster and that they will always love him, despite the fact that he has changed. Before the trial, Steve is depicted as hopeful, quiet, and with a budding interest in film-making. During his time in jail and throughout the trial, however, he is shown to be struggling against racism and stereotypes and suffers a major identity crisis. Is he or is he not a monster?

Fortunately, he comes out the other side stronger and with a new perspective on his life and on himself (whilst still pursuing the film-making he loves). Though he will always face struggles of discrimination, he now understands he needs to discover who he is on his own.

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Some of the most interesting and compelling analyses for a reader when exploring a novel is how all elements contribute to a character's growth or demise, but ultimately, some form of change occurs. When exploring this particular question, it's important to understand the concept of perspective.

Through all the events of the novel, it is Steve's own perception of himself that goes through the most change. The author explores this concept by giving the reader multiple perspectives of Steve that the character must balance and grapple with, consequently showing to the reader that people are dynamic: constantly changing, adapting, and adjusting based on the world around them and the circumstances they find themselves in.

Steve's view of himself as an innocent person counteracted by the view of society and the view that the prosecution takes toward his presumed guilt eventually amalgamates into his own perception of himself. In order for Steve to understand his own identity in the wake of these events, he looks not only within himself but to his outward identity that others see and judge.

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Prison has a dramatic effect on Steve Harmon's mental state and perspective on life. In prison, Steve feels constantly threatened by the violent inmates and is terrified of possibly spending the rest of his life incarcerated. Steve struggles to finds his identity in prison and even throws up after realizing that he looks exactly like the other criminals. Each day is a struggle to survive as Steve goes out of his way to avoid conflict and distance himself from the other prisoners. Steve also listens as other inmates attempt to trick themselves into believing that they are innocent and continually questions his own morals. Prison hardens Steve, who is no longer afraid of James King when he attempts to intimidate him before entering the courtroom. Prison also humbles Steve, and he is willing to do or say anything to avoid spending his life behind bars. Steve ends up convincing himself that he is innocent while in prison, but continues to struggle to find his true identity after the trial.

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Prison hardens Steve; he is no longer easily intimidated by tough-looking people. He attributes it to the brutality and violence he had witnessed in prison. Weakness is abhorred and anyone that showed signs of it was dealt with ruthlessly. He also changes his view about portraying a tough exterior. The change is in alignment with his lawyer’s strategy to attempt and demonstrate to the jury that unlike the other accused persons, Steve is not a criminal and is by all means human.

He faces constant uncertainty about his identity and nature, and wonders whether he is a good or a bad person. Even though he has convinced himself of his innocence and that he did not play any role in the murder, he wonders what the people in his life think about him. The conflict is heightened after his acquittal when his lawyer declines his hug, and his father distances himself from him.

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