As the title of the novel, it is clear that the concept of monstrosity plays a large role in Steve Harmon's story. In one of the novel's opening scenes, Petrocelli calls Steve a "monster." Later, the defense calls the witnesses "monsters." Steve internalizes this label and thinks of himself, his fellow prisoners, and the entire American judicial system as monsters. Although Steve ostensibly rejects the idea that he is a monster, the accusations brought against him cause the protagonist to feel monstrous despite himself. Even after Steve is released from prison, he is unable to let go of this detrimental label.
In the opening pages of the novel, Steve looks in the mirror and stares at his reflection. Upon seeing his reflection, he is almost unable to recognize himself. He finds it impossible to believe that he could have physically changed so much in just a matter of months. Steve's adverse reaction to his reflection represents his inability to grapple with the consequences of his alleged actions. In this way, the mirror symbolizes Steve's confrontation with reality. After this literal moment of reflection, Steve deliberately chooses to distance himself from his reality and dramatize his daily life.
Steve's Journal (Symbol)
In Steve's journal, the protagonist candidly chronicles his anxieties and his confusion with the judicial process. Throughout Steve's imprisonment and his trial, he must be hyper-conscious of his external appearance and attitudes. In prison, Steve must maintain a delicate balance of standing up for himself without being aggressive. On trial, Steve must do whatever his legal counsel advises in order to be acquitted. Steve's journal symbolizes a "safe space" for the narrator. In his journal, Steve can express his honesty and vulnerability.
Steve refers to nighttime numerous times throughout the novel. In the opening scene, Steve reveals the nighttime is the only possible time to cry while in jail. In this way, nighttime represents concealment. In addition, Steve expresses his strongest feelings of loneliness and abandonment at nighttime. Although the night connotes shadows and darkness, it also proves to represent a moment of self-confrontation and truthfulness.
While in prison, Steve is haunted by numerous nightmares that each hold individual significance. When Steve dreams that he is unable to be heard in the courtroom, he reveals his feelings concerning his loss of control. As a motif, nightmares signify Steve's subconscious thoughts and emotional distress. Although Steve's day is full of events that cause him anxiety, he is unable to escape his thoughts even while he sleeps.
Monster Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Monster is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.