I hated reading Monster by Walter Dean Myers, I mean it was a good book but some of its content was annoying to me. What was annoying to me about it was the prejudice and ignorance through out the whole book. People assume because of their prejudice against people who aren’t white, that having a different skin color, being different means that you have to commit a crime because you feel like it and you are guilt of a crime because you are different. Throughout the whole book people assume that, thanks to prejudice, just because the people on trial are black that they are guilty and that because the witnesses are black they are lying. They also assume that those who committed the crime that the trial is for did it because they are black and just felt like it. Because of their prejudice the characters in this book think that a black person who is on trial for a crime couldn’t possibly be innocent,
Well, frankly, nothing is happening that speaks to your being innocent. Half of those jurors, no matter what they said when we questioned them when we picked the jury, believed you were guilty the moment they laid eyes on you. You’re young, you’re black, and you’re on trial. What else do they need to know?
I thought you’re supposed to be innocent until your proven guilty?
That’s true, but in reality it depends on how the jury sees the case. If they see it as a contest between the defense and the prosecution as to who’s lying, they’ll vote for the prosecution. The prosecutor walks around looking very important. No one is accusing her of being a bad person. They’re accusing you of being a monster. The jury can ask itself, why should the prosecutor lie? Our job is to show that she’s not lying, but she’s simply made a mistake. How are you feeling? Is your stomach still upset?
A little better.
This may be because of the fact that the characters who aren’t black are ignorant of what it is like to be black. They don’t realize that those who committed the crime might have a bad home life or are treated badly and so use crimes as a way to make a statement or to get back at those who treated them badly. Those who commit crimes might also do it because they can’t make as much money because they don’t get as much money from their job because of the door of their skin,
What else did you grab besides the money?
We took some cigarettes and left.
Then what did you do?
Then we went down to that chicken joint over Lenox Avenue, across from the bridge. We got some fried chicken and some wedgies and some sodas.
They also are ignorant in that they don’t realize that they committed the crime for a way to get gifts for their families or to get things that their family wants but can’t afford,
So he turned me on to 2 cartons for 5 dollars each. I asked him how he copped and he said he was in a robbery in a drugstore. I didn’t say no more because all I wanted was the smokes.
Did he tell you when the store was robbed?
He said it just went down.
And when did this conversation take place?
The day before Christmas. I remember that because I gave a carton of cigarettes to my moms as a present.
Something similar to this took place in The Giver by Lois Lowrey, the main character, Jonas, is selected to be next in line for what is called The Receiver of Memory in his community. Being selected for this position gave you the highest honor you could get in this community. In spite of the fact that this job gives the highest honor in the community people start to treat him differently after they find out that he was selected for this job. They seem unsure of whether they should talk to him, or how they should act towards or around him and they even question of they should treat him equally or if they should be giving him the honor due to him that is supposedly attached to this job. They are especially unsure of whether they should congratulate him when he is selected because of problems that came up form the last person selected for this job,
Now for the first time in his twelve years of life, Jonas felt separate, different. He remembered what the Chief Elder had said: that his training would be alone and apart.
But his training had not yet begun and already, upon leaving the Auditorium, he felt apartness. Holding the folder she had given him, he made his way through the throng, looking for his family unit and for Asher. People moved aside for him. They watched him. He thought he could hear whispers.
“Ash!” he called, spotting his friend near the rows of bicycles. “Ride back with me?” “Sure.” Asher smiled, his usual smile, friendly and familiar. But Jonas felt a moment of hesitation from his friend, an uncertainty. “Congratulations,” Asher said.
“You too,” Jonas replied. “It was really funny, when she told about the smacks. You got more applause than almost anybody else.”……. “Congratulations, Asher!” someone called. Then that hesitation again. “You too, Jonas!” (Pgs. 65-66)
They seem to be more afraid to treat him the same because they have this picture in their mind of the Receiver being different and somehow not a part of the community like he shouldn’t be treated the same way as everyone else, like he doesn’t need to have the same kind of respect everyone else gets. They seem more afraid of what will happen because he is now in this position than willing to honor him in this position because he was selected for it. They have a bias against him because of what happened to the failed Receiver before him and thus they are scared he will fail the same way and so they don’t want to honor him because they don’t believe that he can fulfill the position the way the current Receiver is fulfilling it. This all happened as soon as people found out he was selected as the new receiver of memory, as soon as they found out he was different.
They are treating him this way because of the fact that they are ignorant of what he has to do for this position. They are ignorant of the fact that he has to carry the burden of all of the memories of the past and how heavily they will weigh on him and how he won’t be able to explain to them this burden and thus has no one to lean on to help him carry that burden except for the current Receiver of Memory.
This even happens out right and on a personal level for Jonas, when he has an encounter with his friends Asher and Fiona when they are pretending to be fighting a war. Asher is blatantly and out right prejudiced and mean to Jonas,
Only Asher and Fiona remained.
“What’s wrong, Jonas? It was only a game,” Fiona said. “You ruined it,” Asher said in an irritated voice.
“Don’t play it anymore,” Jonas pleaded.
“I’m the one who’s training for Assistant Recreation Director,” Asher pointed out angrily. “Games aren’t Your area of expertness.”
“Expertise,” Jonas corrected him automatically. “Whatever. You can’t say what we play, even if you are going to be the new Receiver.” Asher looked warily at him. “I apologize for not paying you the respect you deserve,” he mumbled.
“Asher,” Jonas said. He was trying to speak carefully, and with kindness, to say exactly what he wanted to say. “You had no way of knowing this. I didn’t know it myself until recently. But it’s a cruel game. In the past, there have—”
“I said I apologize, Jonas.”
Jonas sighed. It was no use. Of course Asher couldn’t understand. “I accept your apology, Asher,” he said wearily. (Pgs. 134-135)
Asher is ignorant to the fact that Jonas has to carry such as huge and heavy burden with only the help of the current Receiver. He just think that Jonas is being a jerk because he has the highest honor in the community and is trying to take advantage of it. Because of his ignorance to this fact and the fact that he will never understand this he has a prejudice toward Jonas being different than everyone else and set apart.
I had a similar experience with my ex-boyfriend being black and the way people talked about him. Certain people who knew he was black often treated me differently or talked about my ex differently because they were ignorant of the fact that he is a good Christian man who would never commit a crime and would study hard to get good grades. They were ignorant of the fact that he has a steady job where he gets enough pay to get what he needs and can still do things that he wants to do. This ignorance caused a prejudice in them that cause them to treat me differently and talk about him differently.
The ignorance which leads to prejudice in these books and my experience is because people don’t bother to find things out and they make assumptions based on someone’s position in life or their skin color. they don’t bother to get to know people or bother to ask questions to get the actual answers. People have ignorance and see it as bliss because they make up their own answers and create their own world from their own perceptions and their own answers not care how they see or treat people because they enjoy the world the way they see it. People are ignorant and have prejudice because they don’t want to get to know people and they want the world to be the way they see it so they don’t bother to change their views and try to make he world the way they see it.