Why does Steve in Monster explain to Kathy O'Brien about being handcuffed to the court bench?

Quick answer:

Steve tells Kathy O'Brien that he is handcuffed to the bench in the courthouse waiting room because the guards like to remind him that they have power over him. This is one of many examples seen in the novel of Steve being misjudged and mistreated because of his race.

Expert Answers

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Walter Dean Myers' Monster tells the story of a young man named Steve Harmon. Steve is an African American teenager who is on trial for murder. He is an aspiring filmmaker and tells his story through a series of diary entries and a screenplay, which details how his life story would be told if it was a movie. Writing his screenplay and diary entries helps Steve cope with the anxiety and fear he experiences while in a juvenile detention facility awaiting trial.

Steve plans to name his hypothetical film Monster because that is how Sandra Petrocelli, the prosecuting attorney, refers to him.

In the waiting room of the courthouse, Steve is handcuffed to a bench. His defense attorney, Kathy O'Brien, sits next to him and comments that it is unnecessary for him to be handcuffed. Steve tells her that the guards "just like to show they're in charge."

Even though Steve is quiet and mild-mannered, the guards consider him a threat and feel the need to over-assert their authority by handcuffing him to the bench. This is one of the novel's many examples of Steve being prejudged and mistreated. Another example immediately follows when Kathy tells Steve that because he is a young Black man, the jurors were convinced of his guilt from the moment they saw him.

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