Chapter 5 Summary

In the fifth chapter, Steve Harmon describes his reaction to his father sobbing. Harmon asks what he has done and reasons:

Anybody can walk into a drugstore and look around. Is that what I’m on trial for? I didn’t do nothing….I didn’t fight with Mr. Nesbitt. I didn’t take any money from him.

He worries that his father looks at him and tries to see his son, but a monster has taken his son’s place. He says that his attorney, O’Brien, is starting to worry that a similar transformation is underway in the minds of the jury. The remainder of the chapter outlines Steve’s life from the robbery and murder up to his arrest.

Cut to the film. Harmon describes how the camera pans across his neighborhood. It shows cardboard villages that homeless men have built on the rooftops before moving to the ground, where it settles on two dark women walking along the street. They speak in a West Indian accent. Nearby, Steve is playing basketball, and he overhears them talking about the robbery. The women speculate that the robbery was carried out by “those crack people. They say they’ll do anything for that stuff.” Steve runs away and the camera focuses on a basketball left in the gutter.

The screen cuts again, this time to a television report of the robbery. Steve is at home watching the news report. When the reporter asks one resident to respond on camera, the man says that he is not shocked because people are getting killed all the time in his neighborhood. The camera cuts to Steve, who is “staring straight ahead, mouth open, in absolute shock.” His brother, meanwhile, changes the channel to cartoons.

The film cuts to two weeks later. Steve’s mother returns home with news that the authorities have caught the drugstore robbers. Steve turns on the television to see if the arrest has made the news. It has. There is even a press conference in which Mayor Rudy Giuliani is explaining that he is determined to stop crime throughout the city, not just in “white or middle-class areas.” It turns out that Richard Evans has been caught and footage of his arrest is shown. The scene cuts to Steve’s bedroom, where he is lying in bed with his “eyes open but not seeing anything.”

This shot is interrupted by the arrival of the police, who handcuff Steve while explaining that they want to ask him a few questions. They take him away before Steve’s mother can put on a coat or find out where her son is being taken. The scene ends with her trying to follow the police only to realize that she does not know which station to go to.