BY DAKSHITA NAITHANI
The extraordinary novel “Room” by Emma Donoghue is constructed on two extreme constraints: the narrator’s constrained point of view, a 5-year-old child named Jack, and the limits of Jack’s physical environment, an 11-by-11-foot room where he lives with his mother. We begin the book with our feet firmly planted in these constraints. We only know what Jack knows, thus the tension is palpable, as is our perplexity as to why these individuals are at this location. Jack appears to be content in a routine that he finds reassuring, in a location where he can see his mother at any time of the day. For him, she has devised an organised, energetic routine that includes exercises, music, and readings. The room’s primary items are given letters — Rug, Bed, Wall — which is an excellent decision because they are named beings to Jack. In an environment where his mother is his only other company, Bed is as much a buddy as anything else. In this manner, Jack is a super-charged form of a typical youngster, giving infinite pleasure and purpose to everything he does.
Donoghue gracefully directs these constraints. Jack’s voice is one of the novel’s true accomplishments: she has created a kid narrator in him who is one of the most fascinating in recent memory, his voice so ubiquitous that I could hear him chattering away throughout the day when I wasn’t reading it. Jack is lovable simply because he is lovable, as Donoghue reworks language to reflect the delicacy of a child’s learning without making him coy or excessively adorable. Donoghue gives us a glimpse into Jack’s world through dialogue and well placed hints of eavesdropping, without relying on heavy-handed or clumsy narrative. The reader understands together with Jack, and we frequently learn more than he can comprehend, yet the gap between his knowledge and ours is a zone of emotional resilience, as it is in most children’s stories.
Her creativity rises even further when she animates the novel’s physical environment through her protagonists’ rituals: they run around a handmade track; they watch Television, though not much since “it rots our brains”; they tie eggshells together with a needle to form a snake. Toys and books are regarded as valuable as gold. A lollipop is a discovery, and the tale shows early on that Room is truly a jail, with an antagonist having the key, and Ma being held captive.
The meticulous, methodically built structure of the characters’ days takes on a new tone once it is apparent that Ma does not want to be there. Ma becomes a heroic character because she can engage and fascinate a vibrant, intelligent kid despite enduring the sadness of their position.
Jack doesn’t have to change because this is his normal. The space works as a large womb, a real extension of a mother’s body in many respects, a small region of absolute intimacy and care. It’s a child’s paradise for a while, but it’d be his horror if he grew up there.
Overall, Donoghue goes the extra mile with “Room,” bringing her narrative to a dramatic conclusion that seems just right. This is a remarkable work that may be seen through a variety of perspectives: psychological, social, and political. It offers a fresh, comprehensive perspective on the world we live in while presenting an absolutely unique approach to talk about love. Never before has a modern literary classic portrayed a child’s innocence, inventiveness, and perseverance as well as this novel does.
Ma, the main character, has made numerous significant decisions regarding Jack’s upbringing. He’s been raised to think that the sound-proofed shack where he and Ma live, the ‘Room,’ is the sole reality. For example, he believes Ma is the only woman in the world and that he is the only ‘Jack’. This tough choice by Ma enables Jack to have a relatively normal upbringing. Jack is a cheerful, curious youngster like any other because of this decision – he is kept unaware of the tragedy wherein he lives for his own safety. The story then does take a turn and the author handles issues like as schooling, upbringing, and dealing with PTSD symptoms with remarkable humility, leaving the reader with a profound sense of respect and compassion for the protagonists.
We could talk about Room for hours if we wanted to, that’s how essential it is. Room will linger with you long after you put it back on your bookshelves, emotionally compelling, troubled, and with a ray of hope.