Essay about Walter Dean Myers’ Monster - Guilty Until Proven Innocent

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Walter Dean Myers’ Monster - Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Monster is an example of what Patty Campbell would call a “landmark book.” Texts such as these “encourage readers to interact with the text and with one another by employing a variety of devices, among them ambiguity” (Campbell 1) Because it is told through the eyes of Steve himself, the plot can be difficult to decipher. It is ambiguous whether he is innocent or guilty of being involved with the crime. Steve learned to make things unpredictable from his film teacher Mr. Sawicki who teaches him, “If you make your film predictable, they’ll make up their minds about it long before it’s over” (19). Steve took his teacher’s advice and made this film script entirely unpredictable,
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In a court system that is ran predominantly by the white middle to upper class, Steve knows he is an outsider” (2). Steve introduces these clues to us suggesting that he is an innocent young man that is suffering from the injustices of the judicial system. We begin to feel sorry for him and angry with the system.

Steve does not stop here with gaining our trust and pity. He makes it clear that even O’Brien doubts his innocence. When he is found not guilty, O’Brien “stiffens and turns to pick up her papers” (276), not showing even one ounce of happiness. Steve wonders after the trial, “What did she see that caused her to turn away?” (281) The reader is infuriated with the lawyers cruel behavior. If she didn’t believe in him in the first place, then why would she represent him? If he really did something wrong, why was he found innocent by an entire jury? However, if his own lawyer thinks that he is guilty, then perhaps this is the case. The only time when Steve talks one on one with O’Brein is when they are getting ready for him to testify and she flips a cup if he answers incorrectly, and he must rephrase or even change his answer. Steve doesn’t let us in on the questions she was asking or what his answers were. “We don’t hear O’Brien’s questions or Steve’s answers but we see O’Brien turning the cup” (219). This is suggesting that Steve was answering as a guilty criminal and O’Brien helped him to doctor his
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