Room is an utterly original and thought-provoking tale and one of the most original novels for 2011. Focusing solely on an inherently special bond between a mother and son in their self-created world. When it comes to the people we love, not often do we truly get to prove that we would ‘do anything’ for them although the promise is implied, almost on a daily basis. The story explores the deep philosophical and psychological consequences of our imagination and the ability of it to provoke the natural human desire to survive and to protect the ones we love.
Imminently, we are submerged into the oddity of language used by Jack, a 5 year old boy. With the sweet and wholly innocent grammar he uses in which Jack speaks, the reader is almost instantly drawn into the language game of trying to establish what the possible setting of the novel is. Jack seems so happy, and so does ‘Ma’, however early on we discover that the setting is almost certainly set upon a darker foundation. The pair has created a world out of a mere room to which they are confined. Jack’s simple language has been born out of more than just innocence, as early on we realize there are sinister secrets within Room, being that they are not their by choice.
As we are introduced to the lively and passionate world that has been created by Ma and absorbed fully by Jack, we soon become aware of Old Nick. He comes from Outside, brings groceries, moves the trash, and during the night when Jack goes to sleep in Wardrobe, Jack can hear him. He isn’t sure if Old Nick is ‘real for real’ as everything Jack knows he has seen and touched before. It is a strange concept that Donoghue explores, the idea of only knowing things to be truth if we can experience them. Jack is scared of Old Nick and you feel protective for Jack, and for Ma. Ma explains how Old Nick believes that they belong to him as Room does, but they don’t, and it is here when the true evil of the story is realized. The truth of an abduction and rape of a young woman and the difference of perception in that Room is not only Jack’s world and paradise, but a prison.
The skill used by Donoghue to create a story that is compelling and very beautiful out of such a torturous and dark idea is mesmerizing. Jack’s ignorance is endearing, and the sympathy and understanding we feel towards Ma is utterly compelling. I found Ma to be equally on par with other literary heroine’s such as Elizabeth Bennett, as she is unnaturally strong, determined yet modest and with humility.
The story makes you question morality and the intrinsic quality of the truth. Is Jack better off knowing what is Outside and the torment of his life, or will his hedonistic needs more important. Is a dream really so bad, if you never have to wake from it? After all, “Outside isn’t real. Room is real.”
By Georgie Hawtin
trailer for “Room”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8rj2otXNfM