In Monster, there are only three major female characters. They are Sandra Petrocelli (the prosecutor), Kathy O'Brien (Steve's defense attorney), and Mrs. Harmon (Steve's mother). In the courtroom, Petrocelli and O'Brien strongly assert themselves. Steve is intrigued and even intimidated by Petrocelli and O'Brien, respectively. This intimidation makes even more sense when analyzing the behavior of Steve's mother in the novel.
Mrs. Harmon is the quintessential caretaker. Following her son's arrest, she strongly defends his innocence. At the same time, she is deeply affected by Steve's treatment in prison. In numerous scenes, Mrs. Harmon is depicted crying and shaking uncontrollably. Steve greatly appreciates his mother's confidence, and he relies on her warmth during his moments of darkness.
At the beginning of his trial, Steve expects to receive sympathetic reactions from O'Brien and Petrocelli. However, he finds that both women are extremely successful in their professional roles, and they do not let their emotions affect their work. Steve expects for his defense attorney to support him emotionally. However, his hopes are dashed by her cold and professional attitude. Steve learns to respect Petrocelli and O'Brien in the same way that he respects Asa Briggs, James King's defense attorney. At the conclusion of the novel, Steve recognizes that he should not expect the women involved in his case to treat him in the same way that his mother treats him.