ROOM – Chapters 3 and 4 (Dying and After)

ROOM - by Emma Donoghue

Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever read a chapter as quickly as I did Chapter 3 (Dying) – that was an emotional rollercoaster! It literally took my breath away; I was anticipating every positive and negative outcome possible when Ma and Jack were planning (and ultimately implementing) their “Great Escape.” I wondered: would the plan work? Would Old Nick catch Jack faking his illness/death? Would authorities catch Old Nick? Amid these questions, I also wondered why Old Nick was willing to take Jack out of Room – because he had witnessed the stillborn’s death and seemed to have no remorse. What was different about Jack?

Dying, for me, was the fastest 55-pages-read ever! I was engrossed. I could not – would not! – stop reading until I knew, with certainty, that Jack had made it to Outside, safe and sound. Their plan (“Sick, Truck, Hospital, Police, Save Ma”) was genius, it was truly The Great Escape!

Chapter 4 (After) left me nervous and very anxious. I admittedly wanted Room (its control, structure, and routine) back – I know, I’m crazy, right?! Jack’s planned escape was successful, but I think we finally see Ma’s human-ness, rather than her mother-ness. She’s quick to lose patience; quick to lose her temper; and, quick to succumb to the conveniences (and inconveniences) of reality in Outside.
Personally, I caught reflections of my own self during After and realized I lose my patience when things – mostly people – don’t do as I would like, when I would like them too.) Ridicule aside, aren’t we all guilty of Ma’s physical and mental breakdown? Do we not also lose our temper when the weight of the world is too much in a particular moment? I thought it was poignant when Jack said, “I’ve seen the world and I’m tired now.” Outside was too overwhelming for the little guy, and I can’t say I disagree with him – it can be too much to handle at times!

Interesting to me was Ma’s quick diversion to worldly priorities and possessions once she arrived Outside. Even Jack caught notice very quickly when he said, “{Ma would} rather read the paper than sleep with me.” Of course, I also think Jack jumped on the more-more-more wave when Ma asked him to choose five toys and Jack chose six. When is enough enough? We live in a world, in a society, with great abundance, yet humans are rarely content.

Why did Ma tell Jack the story of the isolated monkeys? Is this a foreshadowing trick? Why did Ma (and the medical staff) allow Jack to leave the center for the dinosaur trip? It seemed way too early to me.

The very end of After leaves me curious…and furious. Ma, it seems, has over-dosed on painkillers. Why would she attempt suicide now that she and Jack are in Outside? She’s been so strong, for so long, and she wants to let it all go now? I don’t understand.

Of course I read the last chapter, but I promise not to spoil it for anyone. There was not enough strength to keep me from turning those pages – I was selfish and had to keep reading!!!

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Comments

  1. I don’t think it’s that hard to understand Ma’s suicide attempt. Of course we want to believe that their escape will be their “happily ever after,” but of course that’s not true, because at that point there is still half the book left. Human bevavior isn’t as simple as “happily ever after.” Ma was free but finally had to face the aftermath of the trauma of being locked up and raped nearly ever night for seven years, and other things revealed later in the story.

    • Thank you for sharing this insight. What do you think of this book? I thought it was very clever. If you are interested, check out Real Simple’s no-obligation book club’s website. The author of Room, Emma Donaughe will be answering questions via the blog post sometime soon. I hope you will join the discussion there. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment, I love to hear from readers!

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