‘Room’ By Emma Donoghue

Not a book I would have picked up and getting through the first couple of pages did make me question whether this was something I wanted to finish.But as I persevered, it just drew me in.

The story unravels through the eyes of a 5 year old child, Jack. Its about a woman who’s kidnapped by a pervert and kept in a locked shed for 7 long years. She conceives a child and the child’s whole world is the
room. The ‘Room’ and its constituents like the ‘Bed’, ‘Rug’ become a central part in the child’s life. Each thing in the room assumes a unique individuality.

Though the backdrop is sickening, interestingly its not a depressing story. Their life inside the room is the story of survival and the determination of a mother to protect her child against all odds.
They both plan and manage to escape from their incarceration and the reader would be led to assume a happy ending, were it not for the fact that there was still half the book remaining.

So,as it was, I was curious to see what else the author had in store.

After the escape, they both are suddenly thrown into the outside world where things are not within their control , a world where everything familiar disappears within a void. The mother ; a college going youngster before the episode happens, is trying to absorb the essence of freedom in every way but cant come to terms with the changes which have happened to the world she knew 7 years before. The child, who has never witnessed anything outside the room and his Ma, is struggling to comprehend the vastness of the existence beyond his room and coping with losing his grip on everything familiar. The child, for whom even the falling of a leaf holds wonder, begins the arduous task of unlearning and learning things anew.

To think that freedom could be more chaotic than incarceration wouldn’t have crossed my mind. ‘Normal’ and ‘Abnormal’ just become complimentary sides depending on the boundaries defined by our perception.

The innocence of the narrator seeps through in every line you read in the book.

Having a child nearly the same age, did make me relate much better to the workings and the thoughts of a 5 year old.
Not a book probably everyone would like to read, but for those who can, it definitely, is an enriching experience.

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3 thoughts on “‘Room’ By Emma Donoghue

  1. N

    This Austrian case had horrified and revolted me to the core, affirming how atrocious man can be, and arousing dread at the thought of all those who have not been discovered or rescued. I had followed the case, and knew that a book was being written, but I never planned to read it. So, thank you for the review, I am happy to know what’s in the book.

    It is less horrifying than the actual event and focuses well on the very interesting psychological challenges that this case presents. A decade ago, I would have read the book, I am sure.

    I am reminded of a case which though not similar in nature, had a related context of our comprehension of things we have not seen and of which we have no conceptual grasp.
    http://web.archive.org/web/20060831124229/http://www.newyorker.com/archive/content/articles/060619fr_archive01
    It had made me realize how much we take for granted- the things we understand because they are – well… in our cognitive content. Do you remember the story in our English book- a sighted man gets lost in the valley of blind? Sight, and our understanding and memory of the things we see, are interesting subjects!

    “To think that freedom could be more chaotic than incarceration wouldn’t have crossed my mind.” It is true. And not just about physical incarceration, but even when there are no real walls or bars. Which is why many victims stay
    on in abusive relationships, and thwart all attempts of outsiders trying to help. I think the security that arises from predictability is strong while the uncertainty of what lies in the unknown world is far more intimidating, especially to someone whose spirit is already crushed badly enough to wipe out all adventurousness.

    It is very intriguing (and dissuasive too to a new mother!) that the narration is from the child’s point of view. I will like to hold on to the optimistic thought that being a child, he will be able to unlearn and learn the worlds he faces and ultimately heal.

      1. N

        It was an adaptation of the original short story, The country of the blind, by H. G. Wells. The story is a longish short story, so it was trimmed for our textbook.

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