letting go

This section was the shortest section so far. But I found as though it made the strongest impression on me. In this final section we see Jack make numerous revelations which ultimately helped him reach a stage where he had finally reached independence.

So the section opened up with Jack going to  his grandma and “steppa’s” house. Now this part was a true test on how Jack could handle living without his ma by his side. As a child this is such a difficult but important thing for all kids to face. To me I found this situation incredibly similar to a child’s first day at school. On the first day of school a child feels helpless because they are finally not going to have their parents by their side all the time. Which is the true test on whether or not they are ready to move on. This connection also works because Jack is around the age where kids start kindergarten, there is a direct comparison. With Jack he was constantly wondering where Ma was which is expected.

“not here”

She presses around her mouth where the little cracks are. ” I know you’re missing you ma, but just for now you need to sleep on your own. You’ll be fine, Steppa and I will be just upstairs. You’re not afraid of monsters are you?” (Donoghue, 254)

There are many quotes from this now section that I will include in this post. As it was Jack’s first night alone without his mom it was very hard for him to try and “fend” for himself. He was always used to having his mom by his side when they went to sleep. As a kid you would find it extremely weird if suddenly you had to try and sleep alone in a room when  you’re used to having someone there to comfort you. Even worst for Jack since all he knows is living with his mom by his side he knows nothing else but that.

“I want some, I really really want some, I can’t get to sleep without. I suck on Tooth that’s Ma, a bit of her anyway, her cells all brown and rotten and hard. Tooth hurted her or he was hurted but not anymore. Why is it better out than in? Ma said we’d be free but this doesn’t feel like free.” (257)

I found this quotation to be quite significant. Just in that one section we see how much Jack is truly dependent on his mom. As a five year old like I mentioned before you are so dependent on your mom. We know that Jack is attached at his mom’s hip he doesn’t want to go anywhere without her. Ever since the moment he was born he has been by his moms side which makes it incredibly hard for a kid to let go, which is the whole topic of my post.

mom and son

Throughout pages 271 to 273 is a very pivotal point for Jack because he is being introduced to new things such as finally going to a park and playing with lego. Both of these things are some of our favourite past times when we were kids, but I don’t think we realize how different how it would be for a child to adapt to after they have only grown up with a couple of toys.

child playng with toy

Just a quick analysis of while Jack was living with his Grandma and Steppa. Another target of Donoghue’s subtle wit is the cult of motherhood. A bigger mommy dependence has never been seen than in the boy who lived in a single room with his mother, breast-fed well into his sixth year. I admit it’s shocking even as a reader, but you have to know she had no other choice. But yet she keeps trying to wean him off and fails. Until and interviewer in the hospital steps in, and interrogates her live on national TV about the breastfeeding, of all things.

I found that the fact that Jack got a chance to live with a different woman in his life ultimately helped him let go in the end. The grandma was able to set boundaries that made him realize that there are different ways of life when you are a citizen “outside.” Had he of just stayed in a room with his mom in the hospital he would not have been exposed to childhood just in general. Even though he had to face thing such as getting his first sun burn or getting stung by a bee. Those are things that are just a part of life that all kids must live with, and face everyday. Experiencing all of that led him to realizing that there is a possibility that he would be able to live in outside.

“When I was four I thought everything in Tv was just Tv, then I was fiche and Ma unlied about lots of it being pictures of real and Outside being totally real. Now I’m in Outside but it turns out lots of it isn’t real at all.”(277)

Jack had a revelation about what he had been learning outside, and that maybe although his Ma might have not told him the whole truth he is able to understand that there is more to the world that he has yet to find out. He in a way almost changes his perspective considering at the beginning all he thought about was what the Tv was showing him when now he realizes what there actually is.

At the end we see Ma get them an apartment to live in, at first Jack takes some time getting used to it, but that transition to the apartment made him stop wanting to be breastfed (mostly because Ma said she was done), but he was able to finally say goodbye to that passage of his life. And in the end after a last visit to room young Jack realizes that Room wasn’t all he had hoped it had been. He is finally able to say his last goodbyes to it, which helps him move on to a new chapter in  his young life. What I also found to be very significant was when both Jack and Ma were able to sleep in their own rooms without each other. That was a very significant moment for the both of them.

In the end, Donoghue leaves us with two opposing thoughts. On the one hand, we see Jack finally adjust to Outside, to all the stimuli assaulting him from every direction, to becoming an individual of sorts. On the other hand, when we leave Ma, we are left with the uncomfortable sense that she will merely be moving from prison to prison for the rest of her life (metaphorically speaking of course).

In the end they were both finally able to let go of the things that had been holding them back throughout the novel.


Part 2- Escape

This section was a critical point in the book because they were finally free, or at least Jack was free until he went and rescued ma. Now considering that Jack is only five by this point I am amazed that he was able to follow such an elaborate plan that his mom had put into place. It took him a while to fully understand what exactly he was doing but he was able to follow, and in the end it led him to him running into a man, his kid and his dog who later called the police. As I was reading this part afterward where he was being questioned by the police about:

  1. who had brought him there
  2. whether or not old Nick was his dad
  3. what was his name
  4. where was his mother been hidden, and this part came with numerous frustration questions from the police who just didn’t understand what young Jack had been describing of her whereabouts


Now after more questions they had finally come to the conclusion of where ma had been after Jack had said that he had gone through 3 stop signs and made a turn. Now it just amazes me at how at such a young age, and considering he had just made his way into the real world or “outside” as he calls it was able to in some ways adjust to his surroundings in order to save his mom.

From the moment of their rescue, Ma and Jack are hounded by reporters, doctors and un-accomodating family members. In many ways, we see how Room represented safety to Jack, while Outside is where life is truly terrifying, where he doesn’t get to be with his mother 24/7, where people are strangers and bees actually sting.

In the second half, Donoghue also introduces a welcome element of satire; since all Jack knows of the outside world is what he sees on tv, he cannot relate to anything in the outside world unless he imagines them as characters on animal planet, on fitness planet, on cartoon planet, etc. He is an alien taking his first steps onto the human planet.

Another target of Donoghue’s subtle wit is the cult of motherhood. A bigger mommy dependence has never been seen than in the boy who lived in a single room with his mother, breast-fed well into his sixth year. I admit it’s shocking even as a reader, but you have to know she had no other choice. But yet she keeps trying to wean him off and fails. Until Barbara Walters (at least I think that’s who it is) steps in, and interrogates her live on national TV about the breastfeeding, of all things.

Skipping ahead to once they had reached the hospital. As a child new atmosphere are wonderous and amazing to a child. But to a child who has lived to only imagine what could be on tv how Jack had to adjust was sufficiently different than that of a normal five year old.

“In the world I notice persons are nearly always stressed and have no time. Even Grandma often says that, but she and Steppa don’t have jobs, so I don’t know how persons with jobs do the jobs and all the living as well. In Room me and Ma had time for everything. I guess the time gets spread very thin like butter over all the world, the roads and houses and playgrounds and stores, so there’s only a little smear of time on each place, then everyone has to hurry on to the next bit.”  (5.559)

In the quote above I feel as though is really captures Jack in a nutshell. The fact that he compared time to butter that gets thinned out like butter gives the reader that glimpse of that child innocence which I had brought up in my previous post. Jack knows that things will always be different in the world when being compared to room which had been his whole world for his first few years of his life

Also everywhere I’m looking at kids, adults mostly don’t seem to like them, not even the parents do. They call the kids gorgeous and so cute, they make the kids do the thing all over again so they can take a photo, but they don’t want to actually play with them, they’d rather drink coffee talking to other adults. Sometimes there’s a small kid crying and the Ma of it doesn’t even hear.

“You’ll be with your uncle and aunt all the time, you’ll be perfectly safe. Or would you rather leave it till another day?” Yeah but no because another day the dinosaurs might be gone. “Today, please.” (4.1379-1380)

Jack is starting to realize that, in the Outside world, things change as time passes, unlike in Room, where things seemed to remain static, or at least repeat like a twisted version of Groundhog Day. In the Outside world, if too much time passes, some things are gone forever.


There are a number of intimations that Ma never loved little Jack the way she loved her unborn daughter, dead thanks to the ineptitude of Old Nick. In a telling sequence, she mindlessly relates the old psych experiment about the monkeys separated from their mothers and fed only by a drainpipe, how they withered away due to the absence of love not the absence of basic needs. Later on, even she agrees with Jack’s assessment that even the love of their human captors might have been enough to sustain those monkeys. But what’s truly horrifying about this exchange is that in this metaphor, Jack might stand in for the human captor.

In the last part we see Jack finally get to see the world and experience different things that we take for granted considering that we have lived our lives with the whole world at our disposable. I liked jacks who has only lived in one room for most of his life.


Childhood innocence

Imagine being a child and only knowing the world through what you parents have told you exist and what you see through the screen of your tv. Well that is exactly the take that the story room takes. In the beginning section of the room we get introduced to young Jack. A bubbly, energetic four year old turning five. He lives in a secured single-room outbuilding containing a small kitchen, a bathtub, a wardrobe, a bed, and a TV set. He lives with his mom who goes by Ma. All Jack has ever known of is what he has either seen on tv or what his mom has told him. He lives his life only knowing what exists in the 4 walls that he stays in.

room1.1.jpg (600×300)

The first five years of his life have been spent in a single room, and the only person he knows is his mother, whom he calls Ma. Instead of friends and family, his drawings might detail the other objects in his surroundings—he and his mother refer to “Room,” “Wardrobe,” and “Bed” as if they were other characters in the novel. Donoghue’s novel is not dissimilar to the simple drawings of a child, in which the lettering is plain, but the colors, values, and strokes of the crayon are detailed upon closer inspection.

The character of Jack brings more to the story than just a little kid with his mom. The story being told from his perspective leaves the reader in awe at what a five year old would be feeling while going through something like this. For example like it was mentioned in the paragraph above they have come up with names to objects. So the door is literally a character in the book to Jack. That’s all he knows. Which is eye opening to any reader to find out what a little kid would be going through at a time like this.

As I was reading the section it was definitely eye opening. Things such as when Jack would be sleeping in the wardrobe so that old nick would not see him. And him literally counting squeaks he hears from the bed gives us that rush of how a child would not have any idea about what was going on.

Later on as he sees the marks on his mom he as a child thinks (or at least hopes) that they are dirt but later goes on to realize that they are from old nick. Once Jack had reached the age of five you definitely saw that significant change in his personality. He was constantly asking more and more questions and not just from a child hood wonder. He was asking because he actually wanted to know what was going on around him.

The childhood innocence that was being portrayed throughout the first section was almost eye opening. One part that I found to be shocking was when Jack had said that every night he counts the squeaks that come from the bed while old nick is over. At our age we know exactly was happening but since we see from a child’s perspective it adds a layer to it.

The fact that the whole story was told from the five year olds point of view really made me realize that that is how children go through the world. They do not think that things are as bad as we make them out to be. Which was especially shocking to see that the author would choose to take the story in a new direction per say.

Now throughout the first section I was really able to see Jack grow as a character. At the beginning he only thought how his mom had taught him. He contradicted nothing and just went with it, no questions asked. But once he turned five we begin to see him switch into a very outspoken child. Who is constantly questioning his mom. Thats where I feel that his child hood innocence disappears in a way. His mom accidentally slips things in about the real world and Jack just does not want to believe that they could ever be true.

Tying back into the innocence factor, at one point in the text where it quotes.
“After Nap, Ma and Jack climb up as close to Skylight as possible and play Scream. That’s when they “shout holler howl yowl shriek screech scream the loudest possible” (1.499). This quote as a child is just a game that they play. When in reality being the readers we know that it is the moms attempt to get someone to rescue them. Another moment of innocence is when Ma tells Jack that Old Nick goes into the TV and gets things there.
Jack believes her, but Ma can’t believe that she told that lie, so she tells him the truth. “What we see on TV is… it’s pictures of real things” (2.101).
Well, except for Dora and SpongeBob. Sorry, Jack.
Jack’s mind is totally blown to find out that there’s a whole life Outside Room that isn’t Outer Space. He can’t sleep all night. I find that that part really brings out that innocence that I was talking about. He hears what his mom is saying but because he has only ever lived in room he does not know if he will be able to believe his mother.

As a child when you hear things from your parents you automatically know that they are true, because as your parents they will never lie to you. But when Jack finds out that everything he knows is wrong it deals him out and he does not know if he can believe it.

Which is why I find that the scene where they plan their escape is so fascinating. Because we can read what Jack is thinking we know that he really doesn’t want to try and escape. After one failed attempt he finds it ever harder to process that his mom wants him to pretend that he is dead.

I found that the inclusion of child innocence was used very well to aid in the story. Hearing jacks point of view to things really made me realize how kids think through situations, and why they probably feel overwhelmed with the breaking of the illusion that their parents have left for them their whole life.