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:
- who had brought him there
- whether or not old Nick was his dad
- what was his name
- 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.