What character traits best describe Steve Harmon in Monster by Walter Dean Myers?

In Monster, Steve Harmon is, for the most part, a good kid caught in a bad situation. Steve considers and shows himself to be a good person at heart. He loves his family. He is highly creative and self-expressive, and he is sensitive. Steve does not want to be the “monster” others label him as.

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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.

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I'll start by saying that Steve Harmon is not a bad person.  He writes exactly that in his own journal too.  

"I know that in my heart I am not a bad person." 

Of course perhaps that is not solid evidence because most people would probably believe that they are not a bad person; however, other people in the book that truly know Steve's personality attest to the fact that Steve is a good kid.  Take Mr. Sawicki for example.  He is Steve's favorite teacher and he says that Steve is "talented, bright, and compassionate."  Those character traits are absolutely true about Steve, and they are shown concretely in the way that he loves and treats his brother, Jerry.  

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with further evidence of just how tenderhearted Steve is when we see him jail.  Steve is terrified of jail, and he's terrified of all of the violence that he sees around him in the jail.  He never considers using violence against others.  

I would definitely call Steve a good kid; however, that doesn't mean he is problem-free.  A contributing factor for his legal predicament is the fact that he is insecure.  Steve lives in a rough neighborhood.  There are gangs, theft, and violence.  Although deep down, Steve isn't like those guys, he still feels the need to posture and emulate those guys.  He wants to be cool and tough like the people that he sees around him.  That's because he's insecure in who he is to begin with.  

"I had looked at him [James King] and wanted to be tough like him."

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Throughout the novel Monster, Steve Harmon is portrayed as a shy, introspective individual who is extremely self-conscious. He gets involved with a group of thugs who are planning a robbery because he wants to be viewed as cool and tough throughout his community. Myers does not specifically state whether Steve participates in the crime, but Steve ends up being accused of aiding James King and Richard "Bobo" Evans in robbing a local drugstore. During his time in jail, Steve contemplates and questions his own morals. He also struggles with his identity after the prosecuting attorney calls him a monster. Steve comes across as an innocent individual who made the terrible mistake of associating himself with criminals. He expresses his fear throughout the novel and regrets his past decisions. Steve is also a loving brother and son. He enjoys his family and shares a close relationship with his parents and brother. Overall, Steve is an intelligent, sensitive individual who struggles with his personal identity after being on trial for murder.

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