What does the mirror in Monster by Walter Dean Myers symbolize?

The mirror symbolizes Steve's similar circumstances to other young black people who were imprisoned and cast to the racist justice system. It also symbolizes Steve's changing view of his identity. In prison, be becomes fearful. The prosecution calls him a monster, and he begins to wonder if the epithet has a grain of truth that he just hasn't noticed before. After his acquittal, Steve continues to stare into mirrors trying to find the monster inside of him.

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At the beginning of the story, Steve Harmon mentions that there is a small rectangular mirror in his cell. It has names of former inmates scratched into its surface. Steve goes on to say that whenever he looks into the mirror, he has difficulty recognizing his own reflection. Steve says...

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At the beginning of the story, Steve Harmon mentions that there is a small rectangular mirror in his cell. It has names of former inmates scratched into its surface. Steve goes on to say that whenever he looks into the mirror, he has difficulty recognizing his own reflection. Steve says that his reflection does not resemble his image, and he wonders if his appearance will change again once the trial is over. The names scratched into Steve's mirror represent the long history of marginalized black youths like Steve who have been imprisoned and were previously on trial for their lives. Throughout the story, Myers explores the prejudiced nature of the justice system as Steve struggles to overcome negative stereotypes and differentiate himself from the "typical" juveniles in similar situations.

The mirror also represents Steve's identity issues. Since his arrest and imprisonment, Steve has dramatically changed into an introspective, fearful individual. In prison, Steve continually examines his conscience and contemplates his role in the robbery. He struggles to embrace his innocence and recognizes that something is amiss in regards to his identity. After he is labeled a monster by the prosecution, Steve entertains this notion and wonders if there is some hidden truth to the unflattering comment. Even after his acquittal, Steve continues to film himself and look into the mirror at home. He continually searches for the monster that Petrocelli identified at the start of the trial. Overall, the mirror symbolically represents Steve's insecurities and identity issues as well as the long history of marginalized black youths, who resemble Steve and the other black inmates.

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