Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Monster contributes greatly to an understanding of the social realities underlying a young person’s growing to maturity in an inner city. Growth occurs in relation to a teen’s entire milieu. The trial process, on the other hand, isolates individuals and events, and it attempts to understand them solely in order to identify agents, to determine outcomes, and to assign guilt. The justice system fails to recognize the social web and the milieu of all characters. Moreover, its officers—prosecutors and defense attorneys—are not even concerned with justice, being instead dedicated to victory, regardless of the guilt or innocence of the accused. Ultimately, the imprisonment of James King and the exoneration of Steve Harmon seem to be accidental outcomes of Kafkaesque events, as readers are left uncertain of either defendant’s innocence or guilt.