Where is Steve Harmon living in Walter Dean Myers' novel Monster?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From the opening passages, it is very clear that the young protagonist of Walter Dean Myers’ novel Monster is incarcerated in some type of penal institution. In the prologue to the novel-written-as-screenplay, sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon is ruminating on life in prison, noting that the optimal moment to cry is at night when it is dark and another prisoner is screaming in pain from being beaten. The second paragraph begins as follows: “There is a mirror over the steel sink in my cell.” The answer to the question, then, regarding Steve’s whereabouts in Monster is “prison.” Specifically, as indicated in the opening stage direction to the screenplay, Steve is housed in Cell Block D at the Manhattan Detention Center.

Monster is about this teenage boy subjected to the horrors of the criminal justice system when he is accused of murder along with three other men. In the novel’s denouement, Steve is acquitted of the murder charge, but his life is irreparably changed. In depicting the tribulations of a young black man wrongfully accused of murder, Myers is illuminating the dehumanizing nature of the criminal justice process and the way his protagonist is forever viewed by segments of society as the titular “monster.” Once accused of a crime, Steve now fits into the stereotype of black youth as criminal despite his youth and innocence.

During the course of the novel, Steve references additional venues, usually in the context of flashbacks and commutes between the detention center and the courthouse. Consequently, there are descriptions of the window of the van used to transport prisoners and references to Stuyvesant High School, which Steve attends as a student and studies film (hence, the screenplay format of the novel).

 

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Steve Harmon, in the book Monster by Walter Dean Myers, tells his story from Cell Block D at the Manhattan Detention Center in New York.  The books setting takes place at two basic places: the cell block and the courtroom where he is on trial for accessory to murder. At the end of the novel, Steve has returned home.  He has continued his film-making, which his mother fails to understand.  His father has left; Steve thinks he (his father) did so because he is not sure who Steve is or why Steve has acquaintances such as Bobo or King.

boneslover | Student

In Monster by Walter Dean Myers he originally lives in a house with is grandma but then is picked up by the cops and is put in a juvenile detention center.