In Monster by Walter Dean Myers, Steve Harmon is a sensitive sixteen-year-old who is caught in a very bad situation. While he probably was involved in a minimal way in the robbery of the drugstore (merely walking in to check for cops), he is found not guilty on a felony murder charge because this level of legal responsibility is far too grave for any part Steve might have played.
Steve is actually mostly a good kid. He considers himself a good person at heart, and he wants to convince his defense attorney of that. He loves his family, especially his younger brother, Jerry. He has not been in serious trouble before, and his focus in life is mostly on film-making.
In fact, Steve is a highly creative person, as his film teacher, Mr. Sawicki, testifies. Steve makes uplifting films to try to raise the spirits and improve the minds of the people in his neighborhood. He wants to make the world a little better through his own self-expression. The format of the novel also reveals Steve's creativity, for it features Steve's personal journal and a screenplay that he writes about his trial.
Further, Steve is a sensitive young man. He cries at night as he lies in his jail cell, and he is terrified by the thought of going to prison. He wants nothing to do with violence, yet he lives in one of the most violent areas of the city, surrounded by violent people who draw him into their own violence against his will. When the prosecutor describes Steve as a monster, the label goes straight to his heart. He knows that he is not a monster, that he never has been and doesn't want to be, but that word, “monster,” continues to resound in his mind. He starts to believe it and fear that perhaps he really is a monster. His own attorney does not help, for at the end of the trial, when Steve is found not guilty, she turns away from his offered hug, and he realizes that even though she has successfully defended him, she, too, thinks he is a monster. Steve is left examining and filming himself even five months after the trial, trying to discover who he really is.