Room, Chapters 3 and 4 (Dying and After)

Room Thank you for your insightful comments last week. I really appreciated the points about the inconsistencies in the book regarding Jack. Rachel said: "It is strange to me how smart Jack is, but he is still so juvenile, innocent, and childish at the same time." Amy notes: "I also question how realistic it is that Jack would just accept that certain things were just TV and the things in Room are real." Jack's development–both the advancements and delays–were so interesting and surprising at times. It makes for such an interesting study, especially when you realize that this is not a complete fantasy (i.e. Jaycee Duggard, as Bella pointed out). I also think it's such a page turner, that the plot ends up whisking you quickly away to the next stage in their lives. Especially, as Nicole writes, "As I was reading I kept thinking to myself, "what is she going to do if they are still in Room in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years?" I think that point alone is what kept me reading and reading…I wanted to know what was going to happen to them. And then, in Dying, we find out.

Just when I started to get overly anxious about their claustrophobic situation, the plan is unveiled. I read through this section so fast, it now almost seems like a blur. Do you think Ma always planned to wait until Jack was 5 to use him to facilitate their escape? Jack says in the beginning of the chapter, "Before I didn't even know to be mad that we can't open Door, my head was too small to have Outside in it. When I was a little kid I thought like a little kid, but now I'm five I know everything." Do you agree? Though we now know the plan was a success, could Jack handle this? Was it worth jeopardizing Jack's life? One thing: I kept getting confused about the timing of the escape…why was the man who saved Jack walking his dog and baby late at night? Regardless, it was such a relief that he was there. But it left me thinking more about Old Nick–who is this guy? Why did he do this (besides just being a sicko)? It takes a true, methodical monster to create that shed with a keypad, let alone watch as her first baby died. Why would Ma think he would ever take Jack to the hospital?

Next, we get to After, which I found so fascinating. The bubble is broken and the transition to the Outside is too much to bear. In the Room, Ma had everything so structured and organized. Now, her lack of control is apparent. She is quick to lose patience with Jack and unprepared for the pressure of the real world–and the media's desire for sensational stories. What problems do you foresee them facing now that they're back in the world?

The chapter ends dramatically. The trip to the mall with Ma's brother Paul illuminated how long and hard this transition will be. And then, sadly, Jack finds Ma after an overdose attempt. It's interesting how this chapter flips back and forth between who needs caring for more as they transition out of isolation. If Ma makes it through, will she be able to handle raising Jack, who needs just as much attention in this new world. If she doesn't, I hate to think of what Jack's mental state will be. The plan worked, but in his mind, it would be a tragic failure without Ma around. I shudder to think of what is harder for him to handle: being locked in a Room forever or escaping and having the one person you love and trust in the world pass away.   

There's one chapter left (assuming you haven't raced to the end). Let's finish up the discussion next Friday. Please continue to share your thoughts, reviews, and comments below!