SPOILER ALERT:  In this installment, we’ll be discussing Part 3 of Room, and all aspects of the plot through page 155 of the novel.


Part 3 of Room.  “Dying.”  Easily the most dramatic, pulse-quickening section of the book so far — and one that delivers a considerable twist.

Little Jack makes his escape.  Ma reaches her breaking point and hatches a plan.  First:  fake an illness.  Second:  fake a death. Some terrific, stomach-turning action in this chunk of the book.  And a real cinematic quality to the writing.

These rapid developments certainly make for great drama.  The pages turn themselves.  But as you get to the end of the section, and you see that JackerJack has made his escape — and what’s more, they’ve found and freed his Ma! — you find yourself thinking:  What nextIsn’t this where the book is supposed to end?

Apparently not.  At page 155, you’re only halfway through.  And already our heroes have found their way out of captivity.

So Donoghue has done a deft job of playing with the reader’s expectations…and Old Nick is still on the loose….and one can’t help but want to keep reading to the end….


Some fodder for discussion:

How else might Ma and Jack have made their escape?  Is there a plan of action that they might have overlooked?  Room seems to beg readers to hatch their own plans.  You’re rooting for these characters to be free….you want to help them….but how?

And:  What next?




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5 responses to “Room, by Emma Donoghue – Discussion #3”

  1. Jude says:

    JackerJack is such a delightful and heartwarming character! I fell in love with him…

  2. Cheryl says:

    Oh my god oh my god oh my god… This section left me breathless. I had to read this section straight through; there was no way I could put it down without knowing what happened to little Jackerjack and Ma.

    When he jumped out of the truck, but couldn’t speak the words to the man… when he was saying in his head “I’m sorry Ma I’m sorry I’m sorry.” Brave brave little Jack. I couldn’t get over the thought that Jack had never spoken to anyone other than Ma in his whole life. How could he be expected to speak to a total stranger under those circumstances?

    I felt for Ma here too. She put Jack at risk; put a lot of responsibility on his little shoulders. Only the deepest desperation could have driven that.

    As to alternatives – she tried bashing him in the head. She tried digging out. They tried signaling with the lights, and playing with the keypad to figure out the code. When Jack made the RC jeep roll off the shelf, Old Nick strangled her. When Old Nick tirned off the power, it showed her how vulnerable they really were.

    I think she would have continued to bide her time and look for an opportunity, except the news that he was laid off. If he couldn’t afford to feed them any more, what was to stop him from packing up and leaving them to starve? Or worse? She didn’t feel like she and Jack had time to wait for an opportunity to present itself.

    Also, information revealed later in the book (or maybe alluded to in this section – I don’t have the book with me) made the plan seem less risky than it originally felt. There was precedent for this – she had reason to believe it would work.

    I love that the book didn’t end with the escape. First, stories like these often end with “the great escape”, ignoring the long road still ahead, and giving the illusion that everything would be okay after that. Second, having the book only deal with the imprisonment and not what happens seems like it would have more of an exploitative quality about it, focusing only on the abuse. We get to see these characters as more than just victims. Finally, Ma’s focus for the first 3 sections has been on getting out, but she’s been gone 7 years with no word on her family or friends – life has moved on without her and she cannot go back. Her story after is so compelling.

  3. The section where Jack escapes was absolutly riveting! I think my heart was pounding as hard as Jack’s must have been through that part of the book. Serious adrenaline.

    I’d been thinking about that question : What else might have worked for them to escape, other than the way they did? I’m not entirely sure. The only thing I could think of was to try a more systematic method for playing with that keypad on the door. Eventually, something would have to work, unless the code was being changed often, without their knowledge.

    This is such a scary book!

  4. Claire says:

    Wht did the keypad still work when the power was down? I was urging her to try the door in tose days!

  5. Brian says:

    I would argue that the most compelling part of the book occurs AFTER the escape…it’s good…

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