What are specific examples and details about prison life that most affect Steve in Monster?
Steve Harmon expresses his negative feelings about jail in his notes throughout the novel. On Tuesday, July 7th, Steve Harmon writes that the only thing the prisoners talk about is hurting one another. Steve says,
"If you look at somebody, they say, "What you looking at me for? I'll mess you up!" If you make a noise they don't like, they say they'll mess you up. One guy has a knife." (Myers 49).
Steve has to constantly be on his guard around the violent prisoners. He hates violence and is forced to act tough around the other inmates. Steve does not feel comfortable around such brash, rough individuals and prefers to keep to himself.
On Sunday, July 12th, Steve mentions that he refuses to smile back at a cafeteria worker who gives him extra food during breakfast. Following breakfast, Steve attends a church service where two inmates get into a fight and the guards lock all the prisoners up in their cells until one o'clock. Steve then describes another fight that almost breaks out while they are playing bid whist. Steve comments,
"I think I finally understand why there are so many fights. In here all you have going for you is the little surface stuff, how people look at you and what they say. And if that's all you have, then you have to protect that. Maybe that's right" (Myers 159).
After spending a substantial amount of time in jail, Steve begins to realize why the inmates act so violently. He begins to sympathize with them and tries to rationalize what makes them so violent. Although Steve himself is not a violent person, he understands that many prisoners have to act tough in order to survive.