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Themes

"The Red Room" is something of a ghost story – after all, it is about a young man’s stay in a haunted room – so the supernatural is certainly an important theme. The young man, (a.k.a. the narrator), is an adamant skeptic of all things supernatural, and considers all superstition to be he product of a bygone age and "dead brains" (like those of the old custodians he meets). He wants to prove there’s nothing supernatural about the red room. After the night is over, he still seems to stick to his story that there’s no ghost. Enough odd things happen over the course of the night that it’s possible to wonder if he saw a ghost after all. At moments, he certainly sounds as if he believes he’s seeing one.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. So, we’re dying to know, is there really a ghost in the story? Is there any evidence one-way or another? What can you find?
  2. Do you think the narrator believes he encountered a ghost in the red room at the end? How about when he’s actually in the room? Are there any moments when it appears he might have?
  3. Do you think the narrator’s understanding of the supernatural has changed by the end of the story? (Hint: Even if he still doesn’t believe in ghosts, this doesn’t necessarily mean his understanding hasn’t changed.)

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The red room is really haunted by a ghost, as that’s the only explanation for why the candles are extinguished.

The narrator never believes at any point in the story that there’s a ghost in the room.

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