Room - A Personal Response

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Emma Donoghue’s Room, A Personal Response 4

Emma Donoghue’s Room, A Personal Response

On the back cover of Room by Emma Donoghue, I read: ‘To five-year-old Jack, Room is the world…’ Far from enticing me, this sentence left me feeling sceptical. Tossing the novel from one hand to the other, I wondered how the exploration of one room could entertain me for over 300 pages. Surely Donoghue was just reusing the ideas outlined in Plato’s Cave Allegory and transferring them into a modern context?

However, my obnoxious presumptions were challenged, as I found Donoghue’s novel to be far more than the examination of the single question: What is reality? Donoghue’s novel is a web which addresses this question, whilst beautifully intertwining its exploration with ideas of child-development, motherhood and survival. Room is a restrictive, confined setting, but the ideas that Donoghue presents are far-reaching.

The novel opens with the captivating voice of young Jack, saying, ‘Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra’. Jack is born and raised in a space measuring 12 foot by 12 foot and consequently, everything is singular and personified in his world. His narrative language of cataloguing cleverly reflects the confines of his existence, adding to the story’s authenticity.

The reasons for Jack’s unusual situation are left enticingly unanswered for the first few chapters of th...

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