Chapter 10 Summary
The tenth chapter of Monster opens with Harmon writing in his diary while awaiting the jury’s verdict. He admits that he understands now why so many inmates talk about their appeals. They want the argument over their guilt to continue. However, the system shows that the argument is over once the verdict has been delivered. He goes on to reflect on the desperation that his mother and father feel while witnessing his trial. Most of all, he considers his case and the “moral decision” he made. He finally asks, “What decisions didn’t I make?” However, he does not want to answer the question and focuses on his case, thinking how in his film he will alter his actions to make his testimony more powerful.
He returns to the courtroom after a guard informs him and King that the jury has made their decision. In fact, they have had a verdict since the morning, but the court has been waiting for the Nesbitt family to return. Back in the courtroom, O’Brien informs her client that they can appeal if the verdict is not what they want. The judge checks to make sure everyone is ready, and the trial is back in session.
As the jury enters the courtroom, a written narrative like the one at the start of Star Wars rolls slowly up the screen, recalling the first chapter of the book and the start of Harmon’s film. The message points out:
It was not the life or activity that he thought would fill every bit of his soul or change what life meant to him.
As the message plays, the judge reads the verdicts and hands them to the clerk. Meanwhile, the guards stand behind the defendants, preparing to take them into custody.
The color fades and the jury foreman reads the verdict. The audience sees James King put in handcuffs. He is taken from the courtroom. Next the audience sees Steve’s mother. Just as it seems her facial expression reveals a guilty verdict, the camera reveals the guards stepping away from Steve Harmon. He has been found not guilty.
Steve turns to embrace his lawyer, but O’Brien “stiffens and turns to pick up her papers from the table.” There is a close-up of O’Brien: her lips are tense and she leaves Harmon alone at the table. The image, black and white, slowly changes and the grain is “nearly broken. It looks like one of the pictures they use for psychological testing, or some strange beast, a monster.” The image freezes as the final words roll onto the screen: “A Steve Harmon Film.” Has Harmon gotten away with murder, or did he fail to convince his lawyer of what she wanted him to convince the jury?