Entry One: Barton Zhuang
I know you guys are probably getting sick of all the depressing stuff I write in these blog posts… but the dark parts are the parts that really stand out to me, and “Room” by Emma Donoghue really shows a lot darkness below it’s facade of happiness and joy.
How large is your house? 1,026 square feet? 4,204 square feet? You may even think your house is small, but the characters of this novel have lived in a mere garden shed, and Jack, the main character has lived here since birth, not knowing of the endless possibilities the world holds. He’s happy because he’s never known anything else, and thought that the endless possibilities of the world were trapped in an imaginary realm viewable only through their television. He lives with his Ma, who was kidnapped as a college student and held in the garden shed for many years where her captor comes almost every night to rape her. The life that Ma has created for Jack (who is five years old now) in this impossible situation is admirable, after all that she has had to bear.
The juxtaposition that Donoghue applies is heartbreaking. Little Jack doesn’t understand everything that is happening, and is happy. He enjoys his life as it is, while Ma is trying very hard to give Jack a normal life. One can learn to hate Old Nick, not only because he’s the antagonist, but because what he is doing is absolutely disgusting. He’s taking away another human being’s life, something that everyone gets only once, which can be too short. For me, sometimes a school day can just fly by, and I’ll be home before I know it, but I just can’t bear to imagine how life would have been for Ma and Jack.
One really specific part that stood out to me a lot was “Scream.” Ma had taught to Jack a game every day after their nap to scream as loud as they could, Ma trying in a harsh effort to communicate their entrapment to the outside world so they can be saved. Ma seeming almost desperate, and Jack screaming as if playing a game, not knowing the full reason why they scream. After they scream, Ma always shushes Jack, and Jack asked once why they become quiet, and Ma responds “Just in case someone is listening” (or something along those lines… I can’t find the quote right now). This part really saddened me, as if there was no hope for them, and that this kind of stuff could be happening every day. The thought that someone right this moment could be screaming behind a panel of soundproof glass chills me to the core.
Overall, this novel has been fun to read, especially from Little Jack’s point of view. The innocence and naiveness of Jack only makes the book more painful to read, but it’s a kind of painful that makes you want to read more. It’s so good at keeping me hooked, so 9/10 is my current rating.