In Monster by Walter Dean Myers, why was Mr. Sawicki an important witness for Steve Harmon's defense?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the trial, Kathy O'Brien, Steve Harmon's lawyer, continually mentions how important it is for Steve to distance himself from the other individuals involved in the crime. James King, Richard "Bobo" Evans, and Osvaldo Cruz are all thugs who have a bad reputation. Steve Harmon is simply a good kid who began associating with these individuals in order to fit-in and be cool. Mr. Sawicki runs the film club at Steve's school and is Steve's teacher. O'Brien uses Mr. Sawicki to testify that Steve Harmon is a good person who has a positive reputation. When O'Brien asks Mr. Sawicki what he thinks about Steve, Mr. Sawicki comments that Steve is an outstanding young man who is bright, talented, and compassionate. Mr. Sawicki also testifies that he believes that Steve is an honest person. Mr. Sawicki's testimony is significant because his positive opinion of Steve portrays Steve to be an honorable, trustworthy young man. The jury takes into account that Steve is not like the other individuals involved in the case, who do not have any reputable people to speak highly of them. Mr. Sawicki's testimony essentially distances Steve from James, Bobo, and Osvaldo. 

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George Sawicki is Steve's film class teacher and film club mentor. As a respectable middle-class person, he makes a creditable and sympathetic witness for Steve. While many people, including possibly his lawyer, Kathy O'Brien, see Steve as a "monster" because he is a young black male accused of a crime, Sawicki perceives Steve as a real human being. He doesn't frame Steve as a stereotypical "thug" or criminal but knows him from a different world and context. He recognizes that Steve is intelligent and sensitive and has a caring heart. Sawicki is important because he illustrates the difference one individual can make in the life of a young person by stepping forward and telling the truth as he knows it. It could be easy to turn your back on a person like Steve, but Sawicki has the courage and empathy to help—and we see that his help is effective. Therefore he models to the reader the importance of not just being a bystander but of taking a stand.