Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

 Room by Emma Donoghue

One of the more thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time, Room addresses certain issues that most of us take for granted.

The book is written from the perspective of a five-year-old boy, Jack, whose whole life is “Room”. He’s never known any other world except the small room he was born in, where his mother has been kept in captivity for 7 years.

The man who holds her captive, and who fathered him, brings them their food and other items they might need. They have a TV where Jack sees things that are “real” and “not real”.

There are two parts to this book, the story of their lives in captivity, and then the story of after they’ve escaped. Both parts make you think.

The first part is pretty straightforward in that you wonder about how Jack’s emotional intelligence has been compromised by only knowing Room as his whole world, and only having Ma, and occasionally her captor, as the only other people in his world.

Although compelling, it’s the next part of the story that really makes me wonder. After Jack and Ma escapes, they both have to (re)integrate themselves into society, and of course, for Jack, his whole world turns upside down.

The thing that strike you, is although Jack and Ma were kept in captivity, the irony is that they were free to be themselves when their whole world was just them. Now that they are free, they no longer have the freedom to be themselves. They have to conform to the rules of society.

Jack has to learn manners and ways of speaking and addressing people in society. Ma can no longer breastfeed Jack because he’s five years old and society doesn’t approve. There are so many new rules to learn to be an accepted member of society.

Personally, I feel that breastfeeding is a good, healthy, natural thing and should be done as long as possible. Unfortunately, even though I feel this way, I probably still wouldn’t breastfeed my kids past a year, because I would worry too much about what other people think. I would, however, wholeheartedly support mothers who are braver than me and breastfeed however long they and their kids want to.

The point is, it makes me think… are we all just prisoners of society? But then again, who makes the rules? It’s really up to us, at the end of the day, to change the status quo. Certain things frowned upon years ago are acceptable now. Slavery was abolished, gay marriage is legal in certain parts of the world now, many other changes are happening… It’s up to us to become prisoners or not.

I highly recommend Room, because it is so profound on so many levels. But even if you only read it at its most basic level, it’s still a terribly fascinating book, and one that grabs you and makes you want to read more and find out what happens.


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martha said...
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