Monster Literary Elements


Young-adult drama

Setting and Context

The scenes flash between Steve's earlier life in Harlem, New York and his present life inside a downtown Manhattan prison

Narrator and Point of View

The narrator is sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon. He writes his journal entries in the first person. He also writes the screenplay, which takes a third-person point of view.

Tone and Mood

The tone of the novel is serious. The mood is reflective, anxious, and melancholic.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist of the story is Steve Harmon. The antagonist is Prosecutor Sandra Petrocelli.

Major Conflict

Steve is being tried for his alleged involvement in the murder of Aguinaldo Nesbitt, a 55-year-old drugstore owner.


The climax is the scene in which Steve is awaiting the court verdict.


At the beginning of the novel, Steve comments that prison is like “being alone when you are not really alone and [like] being scared all the time." This commentary foreshadows Steve's feelings and his vulnerable emotional condition both prior to and during his trial.



Steve alludes to numerous New York site-specific references. For example, he references Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of New York City from 1994-2001. He also references Marcus Garvey Park, a popular park in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City.


In the courtroom, Steve is overwhelmed by the smell of James King. This is an example of olfactory imagery.



Mr. Harmon's loss of faith in his son parallels Steve's own insecurities about his innocence.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

An example of metonymy is the handcuffs that Steve wears. The handcuffs indicate that Steve's freedom has been restricted during his time in jail. An example of synecdoche is when the court contends that James's "hands were on the gun." In this instance, the hands represent James's culpability for the murder of Mr. Nesbitt.


Fear is personified throughout the novel. For example, it "sits as a ball" in Steve's stomach when he thinks about being convicted for the crime.