Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Room (copy)

He is five today. As he shuts Wardrobe, he remembers that he was four and then over night while he slept he became five. Before he was four, he was three. Before he was three, he was two. “Was I minus numbers?”

“Hmm?” Ma does a big stretch.

“Up in Heaven. Was I minus one, minus two, minus three--?”

“Nah, the numbers didn’t start till you zoomed down.”

“Through Skylight. You were all sad till I happened in your tummy.”

“You said it.” Ma leans out of Bed to switch on Lamp, he makes everything light up whoosh.

He is Jack and Jack was born in a windowless room big enough for a stove, bed, table, bath, sink and wardrobe. That is it and that is all he knows. His mother gave birth to him on Rug for which there is still a stain. She is now 26. Readers are left to guess her age before becoming a sex slave.

Jack relates the story and I am so thankful. You do not get Ma’s perspective except through facial expressions and her answers, at times, can be ambiguous. St. Nick, her captor, is also left to the imagination. He is an older man with a gruff white beard and personality.

The act of reading Room by Emma Donoghue is an exercise in patience. Ma shows great restraint while dealing with her energetic young son. (Can you imagine being locked in the same room as your offspring for any length of time?) Jack must confine his desires for a Sunday treat and his exercise to running around Bed for 45 minutes. St. Nick endures the nagging and readers must curtail their need to read straight through the book in one sitting.

Not only are Ma and Jack suspended in a room, but so are we trying to read the book. We are held in place by a need to see Ma handle the situation. How does she explain these things like the outside world to him? How does she keep her depression from engulfing her? How does she put up with the awful toothache?

This is a fresh take on confinement stories and I encourage you to read it. On the Room website Nelson Mandela is quoted as having said, “I found solitary confinement the most forbidding aspect of prison life. There is no end and no beginning; there is only one’s own mind.”

No comments: