In the novel Monster by Walter Dean Myers, how is Steve treated like he is less than human?

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Steve Harmon is the protagonist of Walter Dean Myers's Monster . He has been accused of participating in the murder of a shopkeeper by acting in the role of lookout. Throughout the novel, Steve is ever the voiceless observer. Myers uses the other characters to create the narrative of...

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Steve Harmon is the protagonist of Walter Dean Myers's Monster. He has been accused of participating in the murder of a shopkeeper by acting in the role of lookout. Throughout the novel, Steve is ever the voiceless observer. Myers uses the other characters to create the narrative of the crime, the arrest, and the trial, but we're never given Steve's version of events. Myers never confirms or denies Steve's involvement. He isn't given the opportunity to defend or even stand up for himself.

Steve is young, black, and poor. This combination causes him to be persecuted and forgotten. The prosecution presents Steve and co-defendant James King as "monsters." Even Steve's attorney, Kathy O'Brien, is disinterested in his guilt or innocence. Her job is to defend him, and she does work hard to win the case. Steve suspects that she thinks he's guilty, and they never build a rapport. At the end of the case, after they win, Steve moves to hug her and she gathers her papers and walks away.

Throughout the novel, Steve tries to make sense of who he believes himself to be, juxtaposed against the interpretations of those around him. He is surrounded by people who think he is guilty, call him a monster, and express that he is less than they are. In his heart, Steve believes he's a good kid, but he's constantly second-guessing it. Notably, those judging him throughout the novel do not know much about him at all. Since he hangs around "the wrong crowd," is a minority, and doesn't have much money, he is dismissed by them and categorized as nothing.

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Throughout the novel, Myers examines how the judicial system treats young minorities as subhuman beings instead of unique individuals. At the beginning of the novel, the prosecuting attorney, Sandra Petrocelli, labels Steve Harmon a "monster." From the start of the trial Steve is viewed as less than human. Throughout the majority of the trial, Steve is voiceless and unaware of what is going on. He is essentially treated as an absent participant whose fate lays in the hands of the attorneys and jurors. Whenever Steve is not in the courtroom, he is locked behind bars inside a jail. Steve describes his violent, dangerous environment as a place where inmates continually attempt to harm one another at all hours of the day. Steve fears for his life and is forced to act like he is a callous, threatening individual in order to survive. Steve's experience in prison also makes him feel like he is less than human.

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