A Modernist Monster: Techniques and Social Messaging in Myers' Novel 10th Grade

Muslim: terrorist. Mexican: rapist. Black: criminal. These reductive and vicious associations appear far too often in today’s society. With an increasing rate of African American incarceration - up to over five times the rate whites are incarcerated at, one is left to wonder at the effectiveness of the justice system in the United States (NAACP). In the novel Monster, by Walter Dean Myers, the main character Steve Harmon faces a possible life sentence for participation in a felony robbery. At only 16 years of age, Steve is a young African American in Harlem - essentially a stereotype for crime. Throughout the novel, Steve faces the harsh judgement of his attorneys, parents, and even other inmates, leaving the reader to contemplate how racism and subjectivity affects an individual’s livelihood. When analyzed through a modernist lens, Walter Dean Myers criticizes the abundance of subjectivity in society by utilizing creative formatting, symbolism, and skepticism in the novel Monster.

First, Myers unveils an extreme amount subjectivity in the courtroom and society by creating symbolism that associates his novel Monster, a scene in it, and the expectations of society, to each other. He writes about a scene in his book in which...

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