Justice, Racism, A Monster and 12 Angry Men

A comparison of 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose and Monster by Walter Dean Myers

external image twelveangrymen_poster-01.jpgexternal image monster2.jpg

  • By Lauren Howell, Erin Kuhn, Alison Taylor, Dakota Jarvis

Discussion Questions

1. Compare and contrast the defendants from Twelve Angry Men and Monster. What are the similarities and differences?
2. What does justice mean? Are there examples from either text that fit the criteria for justice?
3. Do you think that justice is achieved in both texts? Why or why not?
4. Was one trial more just or unjust than the other? Why or why not?
5. What role does a jury play in determining the verdict of the defendant?
6. How are the defendants portrayed in each play?
7. Why do you think Monster was written as a play? Does it affect your ideas and feelings about the story?
8. Why do you think that Kathy O'Brien did not hug Steve after he was declared innocent?
9. After Sandra Petrocelli calls Steve a monster, Steve wonders how other people see him. How do you see Steve?
10. What is reasonable doubt? Can you give examples of reasonable doubt in trial cases such as in the play 12 Angry Men?
11.What do you think was the most important evidence given for voting not guilty? guilty?
12. Did the jury prove the defendant not guilty? Why or why not?
13. How would you have voted in the 12 Angry Men case?
14. How does outside influences affect the jurors in 12 Angry Men?
15. How are jury members chosen? What is a fair jury in the eyes of the judicial system?

Class Activities

Activity One:
An activity designed for students choose for themselves if the defendant in both texts is innocent or guilty. Students must then pick from the text evidence to support their claims and discuss their findings together as a class. Claims for both sides will be written on the board for both defendants. Similarities and contrasts will be focused on and followed up by a writing prompt for each student to express their claim before they leave the classroom.

Activity Two:
News/Radio announcement following the Steve Harmon's case from Monster by Walter Dean Myers or students can follow the case in 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose. Each week a student or a small group of students report on the events of the case based on what they have read. This activity can work as a small recap for the class on what they have read. The activity should take place in the beginning of class. It is designed to show them the three layers of court cases by having then report from outside the courtroom, inside the courtroom, and inside the jury room.

Activity Three:
Chat room style jury- students are to take a stance on Steve Harmon's case and discuss it in the chat room as if they were the jurors determining the outcome of the case. What evidence suggests he's guilty/innocent and why? (This activity would be done after students have read/watched 12 Angry Men so that they can see what it is like inside the jurors' discussion room. They should model their discussion after what they have read/seen. By taking a stance and supporting it with the evidence they have read in the book Monster.)

Original Multimedia

This Podcast follows the case of Steve Harmon however touches on deeper aspects that are also present in 12 Angry Men. This multimedia project is modeled after Activity Two mentioned above.

Additional Resources

  • Reginald Rose
    Link:Reginald Rose @ WebEnglishTeacher
    A very nice collection of a few resources for English teachers, including lesson plans and ideas for course activities concerning 12 Angry Men.
  • Compounded Disadvantage

    Link: Article
    Compounded Disadvantage: Race, Incarceration, and Wage Growth by Christopher J. Lyons and Becky Pettit. Social Problems, Vol. 58, No. 2 (May 2011), pp. 257-280
    "One in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime." We used this link for information to create our podcast.
  • Prisoners in 2011

    Link: Article
    Carson, E. Ann, and Sabol, William J., "Prisoners in 2011" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2012), NCJ239808, Table 9, p. 9.
    "The most serious offense for 237,000 sentenced prisoners in state facilities at the end of 2010 was a conviction involving illegal drugs. Of this total: 69,500 (29.3%) were non-Hispanic white, 105,600 (44.6%) were non-Hispanic black and 47,800 (20.2%) were Hispanic."
    We used this link for information to include in our podcast.
  • Prisoners in 2010

    Link: Article
    Prisoners in 2010. Paul Guerino, Paige M. Harrison, and William J. Sabol, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. (pp. 27).
    We used this source for facts that we used in our podcast. It contains statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Justice about the make-up of prisoners held in U.S prisons.
  • Jury Service. United States Courts. Selection of Jurors.
    About Jury Service
    From this source students can find information about the United States Jury Service. They could use this source for information for papers and activities.

  • NPR
    Link: NPR
    We used this source as a model for our podcast. The radio interview style often includes a radio show host, news segment, specialist, and listener calls. We used npr listen as a tool to familiar ourselves with this type of radio show.
  • Sydney Lumet's 12 Angry Men
    We used this source as a jumping point for activity three. Students will watch this movie after reading the drama. This video will help students conceptualize what goes on in the jury room and give them another example so they can effectively participate in activity three.