What is the climax of the story Monster?

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One possible climax in Monster is when the verdict is read. However, another possible climax is when the closing arguments are presented.

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The climax, the most intense part of any story, is called the turning point because it determines how the main conflict will be resolved. Steve's main conflict is his internal struggle of deciding whether or not he really is a "monster". He writes that he is "so scared. My heart is beating like crazy and I am having breathing trouble." On the other hand, Steve is a liar because he was near the store on the day of the murder. He's also hurt his family. Steve says of his mother, "In a way I think she was mourning me as if I were dead." His father doesn't know who Steve is any more. These are the conflicts Steve has within him to decide whether he has become the "monster" he's been portrayed as.

When do we know the outcome of this internal struggle Steve has? I believe it's after he's found innocent and discovers that he still has to pay a price for his behavior. That price is his image in other people's eyes and in Steve's own eyes. Steve thought being acquitted would allow him to go on with his life, but he learns that isn't the case. He thinks he "looks like one of the pictures they use for psychological testing, or some strange beast, a monster." In the end, Steve has to decide if he can overcome his image of himself and in other's eyes, or if he will always be a "monster".

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What is the climax of Monster?

Walter Dean Myers's book Monster is an interesting book to examine in terms of the plot and climax, because readers could arguably defend several possible climaxes in the book.

The climax of a story is the story's highest point of tension. It marks a turning point, and that turning point's focus is on the main conflict. Some readers might support the idea that the story's climax occurs when the verdict is read. Everything has been building up to this moment. Steve has taken the stand, witnesses have spoken for and against Steve, and the closing arguments have been made. I would count all of those things as rising actions that build up the story's tension. The verdict is going to be what determines Steve's future. Regardless of the verdict, the reader's tension will be eased.

Another possible climax point in the story is the closing arguments sequence. All of the evidence has already been presented for and against Steve. All of that was rising action, and there is nothing left for the court case to cover. Each lawyer must give their final comments and thoughts and make their final push to determine the verdict. The tension is most definitely high at this point. If this is the chosen climax position, then the actual verdict is part of the story's falling action that leads into the cloudy resolution that has readers wondering if Steve truly deserved the not-guilty verdict.

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