What was the impact of the community in the book Monster?

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charsteph88 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps the most influential impact of the community is that it essentially provides opportunities for young people like Steve to become involved in hard crimes like robbery, drug dealing, and murder. Many people in the community are poor, ethnic and racial minorities, and involved in a life of crime. Even the people who generally stay out of trouble regularly witness crime and know that because of the color of their skin, or where they live, that they are less likely to be believed or helped. The conversation between the two women witnesses on pages 117-119 demonstrates the idea that people in the neighborhood are always dreaming or talking about leaving. The reader gets the impression that the main motivation for committing a crime is to get money to "get out" of the 'hood. We know this because Steve includes a scene in his screenplay where he's talking with Osvaldo Cruz and Freddy, and they are bullying him and insinuating that he's not tough enough to hang with them (pg. 80-82). This sort of peer pressure is also shown on pages 149-151, when King is essentially asking Steve if he has the heart to follow through and get paid. King admits to being broke and desperate for money. In their world, "having the heart" to do something means having the guts to do anything to make a dollar. It is a tough world to live in. The impact of the community and the prejudices attached to it are also shown on pages 70-75, when both Williams and Briggs are questioning Detective Karyl with regards to the case. Not only does he admit that he would like to see 16-year-old Steve tried as an adult and sentenced to death, but the also admits to botching the investigation and having a conspicuous lack of evidence. His attitude tells the reader that this is a normal occurrence in poor neighborhoods like Harlem.