Study Guide

Room Quotes

  • Language and Communication

    Part 1: Presents
    Jack

    I think [Old Nick]'s doing sarcasm, when he says the really opposite with a voice that's all twisty. (1.429)

    This is a pretty good definition of sarcasm, and it's impressive that five-year-old Jack not only understands what sarcasm is, but can pick up when someone is using it. That's more than a lot of adults are able to manage.

    But I wasn't lying, only pretending. (1.517)

    It's difficult to tell these two things apart. You can't really pretend without lying, and you can't really lie without pretending it's true. In Jack's mind, they're two distinct concepts. He doesn't understand that to an outside person, like Ma, they look like the same thing sometimes.

    "I'll get bigger and bigger and bigger till I turn into a human." "Actually, you're a human already," says Ma. "Human's what we both are." I thought the word for us was real. (1.133-1.135)

    Jack might understand a lot of words, but being trapped inside Room limits his ability to understand some of them. He thinks that he and Ma are the only "real" people and that everyone else, even the humans, inside the television are not real. It takes him a while to grasp this concept.

    Bunnies are TV but carrots are real. (1.173)

    Because Jack only understands things (and people) he has seen in person, and because all his other knowledge comes from TV, he uses the word "TV" to mean "fantasy" or "imaginary." To Jack, anything that he hasn't laid his hands on is imaginary—even bunnies.

    Ma

    "Vast," says Ma. "Gigantic." "Massive." "Huge." "Enormous," says Ma. "Hugeormous." That's word sandwich when we squish two together. (1.124-1.129)

    Ma and Jack like to play vocabulary games. It may seem like a childish thing to do, but it actually relies on great vocabulary skills. It shows that Jack knows a bunch of synonyms, and also that he understands that "huge" and "enormous" can be combined into one even bigger word.

    Part 2: Unlying
    Jack

    How can there be two Pauls? "You'd call him Uncle Paul." That's too many names, my head's full. My tummy's still empty like the apple isn't there. "What's for lunch?" (2.495-2.497)

    With every new concept comes new vocabulary. It's a lot for Jack's little brain to process, this whole the-brother-of-my-mother-is-my-uncle thing, so his brain pretty much shuts off and thinks of something much simpler, like lunch.

    Part 3: Dying

    "It's OK, sweetie. It's OK." Who's sweetie? His eyes are looking at my eyes, it's me that's the sweetie. (3.783-3.784)

    Jack has only been known as Jack to Ma. The concept of pet names or nicknames is completely foreign to him, especially when these names are coming from a male stranger he just met.

    Jack

    Near the start [of the note], there's two words I never saw before, Ma says they're her names like TV persons have, what everybody in Outside used to call her, it's only me who says Ma. (3.329)

    This is the first time Jack learns that Ma has a name other than Ma (though we never get to know it). Maybe we never get to know it because Karen Jones, or whatever her name is, is never who she'll be to Jack. To Jack, the only word to describe her is, and always will be, Ma.

    Part 4: After
    Jack

    I don't see any vultures, I only see person faces with machines flashing and black fat sticks. (4.6)

    Now that Jack is in the Outside, he's going to experience lots of euphemisms and idioms that seem strange to him. He doesn't understand that "vulture" is another term for "paparazzi," though it'll make a lot of sense to him once he does get it… he'll understand that the photographers are scavengers.

    Some [crayons] are spelled wrong on purpose for a joke, like Mauvelous, that's not very funny I don't think. (4.815)

    Jack takes language very seriously. His spelling is good, his pronunciation impeccable. He's a little grammar Nazi in training, seeing these little puns on the crayons as serious offenses against the rules of good grammar.

  • Society and Class

    Part 1: Presents
    Jack

    Ma doesn't like Meltedy Spoon but he's my favorite because he's not the same. (1.52)

    Once Jack finds himself Outside Room, he is kind of like Meltedy Spoon… he's not the same as anyone else. Although a lot of people like him because of his differences, they also want to make him a part of society. But taking Room out of Jack would be like unmelting the spoon.

    Ma

    "Uh-oh, hitting's not allowed." […] "Actually, boxing… it's nasty but it's a game, it's kind of allowed if they have those special gloves on." (1.381, 1.386)

    Ma tries to explain the way society works, with all its weird exceptions, even though Jack's trapped inside Room. She wants to teach him good morals —like don't hit people—but she also wants him to understand that sometimes people do hit people, and in certain contexts, it's okay. How can anyone keep all these rules straight?

    Part 3: Dying
    The General Public

    "You figure some kind of cult? […] The long hair, no surnames, the state of that tooth…" (3.912)

    This is something Jack overhears another cop say to Officer Oh. He doesn't understand what it means, but that's okay. The cop doesn't understand Jack, either. He's the first of many people in society who aren't going to understand what Jack and Ma went through but are going to make assumptions about it anyway.

    "I'm so sorry, is your little girl OK?" (3.758)

    This is one of the first things Jack hears a person from Outside say. He doesn't understand that the "little girl" is him. People with long hair Outside, like Jack, are usually female, especially little kids.

    Part 4: After
    Ma

    "Then why is she staring at us?" Her arm goes around me tight. "I'm nursing my son, is that OK with you, lady?" (4.34)

    Ma is experiencing some culture shock of her own on the Outside. Even though Ma and Jack have lived outside of society for years and years, everyone else expects them to abide by their societal norms. Breastfeeding in public is weird enough to most people; breastfeeding a five-year-old is just unacceptable.

    "Donations are pouring in, about a sack a day." "A sack of what?" "You name it." […] "You opened them, says Ma, looking in the envelopes. "Believe me, you need this stuff filtered. F-E-C-E-S, and that's just for starters." (4.559-4.563)

    Okay, the outside world is weird. When we find out stuff like this, it makes us wonder if things were better in Room after all. At least there, strangers don't send you poo in the mail…

    Jack

    "Some of the women grow long hair like us," I tell Ma, "but the men don't." "Oh, a few do, rock stars. It's not a rule, just a convention." "What's a—?" "A silly habit everyone has." (4.1068-4.1070)

    All of Jack's questions make Ma, and us, question society's arbitrary rules and customs. Ma has to strike a balance between letting Jack live the way he wants to live and teaching him to conform to society's rules.

    I'm learning lots more manners. When something tastes yucky we say it's interesting. (4.739)

    Ma has to teach Jack how to behave in "polite society," and a lot of being polite is all in how you word things. It's funny how little tricks like this are passed down from generation to generation. We later learn that Grandma taught Ma this sly way of wording things.

    Dr. Clay and Noreen

    "So what do you not like so much here?" says Dr. Clay. "Persons looking." (4.572-4.573)

    Jack doesn't like people staring. Who does? People think Jack is weird because he doesn't fit into a neat little bubble dictated by society—so they stare at him. But staring isn't polite at all. At least Jack isn't doing anything to make them directly uncomfortable.

    Part 5: Living
    Grandma and Steppa

    "For Pete's sake, we're only talking about a minor sunburn and a bee sting," [Grandma] says. "I raised two children, don't give me acceptable standard of care." (5.370)

    When Jack transitions from Room to the Clinic, he feels like he's part of the real world. He's still separated from society in a way, though. He's still protected inside the Clinic, but in the real world, everyone gets hurt at some point. Dr. Clay still wants to protect Jack from sunburns and bee stings, but Grandma thinks that's just a way of life. Who is right?

  • Fear

    Part 1: Presents
    Jack

    Beep beep, that's Door. Ma jumps up and makes a sound, I think she hit her head. She shuts Wardrobe tight. (1.410)

    Ma's reaction to Old Nick's appearance is instant fear. It's incredible how much she manages to compose herself in his presence, given how frightening he is.

    Nothing makes Ma scared. Except Old Nick maybe. Mostly she calls him just him, I didn't even know the name for him until I saw a cartoon about a guy that comes in the night called Old Nick. (1.105)

    Ma is scared of Old Nick and for good reason. He abuses and rapes Ma multiple times a week. Even though Jack doesn't know exactly what's going on, he knows it's a reason for fear.

    If the rings [of the stovetop] ever go against something like a dish towel or our clothes even, flames would run all over with orange tongues and burn Room to ashes with us coughing and choking and screaming with the worst pain ever. (1.188)

    Yikes. That sounds terrible. And it would be. There's no way Jack made up all this detail by himself. He must have gotten it from Ma. She's made sure to scare Jack into being safe, because she doesn't want to lose him, especially not in such a horrible way.

    "I don't like there to be hidey places." "What's the big deal?" "Zombies." "Ah." "Or ogres of vampires—" (1.224-1.228)

    Even though Jack is smart and understands that some things are real and some things are imaginary (yes, some of the things he considers imaginary are also real, but that's another topic), like any child, he's still afraid of imaginary things, like zombies, ogres, and vampires. They could be lurking anywhere!

    "Germs could make you die." (1.26)

    While this is technically true, this comment by Ma makes Jack unreasonably scared of germs. It also comes from a place of fear: Jack is her son and the only person Ma has, and she has to be really careful because she is not able to get him medical care.

    Ma

    "Also there's Mouse, he's my real friend and you made him gone–" "Yeah," shouts Ma, "so he won't run over your face in the night and bite you." I'm crying so much my breath's all whoopy. I never knowed Mouse would bite my face, I thought that was only vampires. (1.486-1.488)

    Here we again see Ma's uncanny ability to strike fear into Jack's heart. And once again, she's right. Mouse could very well nibble on Jack. But we have a feeling that she just doesn't want Mouse around because he could eat food and spread germs, not because she's terrified that Mouse'll eat her son.

    Part 2: Unlying
    Jack

    What if [Old Nick] comes and Ma won't wake up, will he be even more madder? Will he make worse marks on her? (2.153)

    Jack is expressing quite a bit of empathy here. He's not afraid for just himself; he's afraid for Ma and her safety. That's very sensitive for a five-year-old.

    "This man ran up asking for help, his dog was having a fit and he thought it might be dying." (2.700)

    This is Old Nick's ploy to get Ma in his truck, and it worked. It worked because he knew Ma would be scared for the dog's life. It threw her off guard, making it easier for him to snatch her. Like Jack, Ma seems to have always cared about other people—but it was her empathy, in a way, that got her into trouble. That could be why she wants to scare Jack out with stories: she wants him to understand dangers that maybe she didn't understand well enough.

    Old Nick

    "Let's start all the neighbors wondering why I'm cooking up something spicy in my workshop." (2.231)

    Old Nick is afraid, too. He's afraid that someone will figure out that he has a woman and child locked up in a shed in his backyard. He's afraid of getting caught. Plus, we can't forget the fact that he kidnapped Ma in the first place. Why did he do it? Is he that afraid of being alone?

    Part 3: Dying
    Ma

    "Scared is what you're feeling," says Ma. "but brave is what you're doing. […] Scaredybrave." "Scave." (3.306, 3.07-3.308)

    We kind of like "scaredybrave" more than "scave" but it's a good word that becomes kind of a mantra for Jack. This word is Ma's way of helping Jack overcome his fears, not by ignoring them, but by understanding that it's okay to be scared as long as you can push through your fear.

  • Family

    Part 1: Presents
    Old Nick

    "Should have reminded me, I could have brought him something. What's he now, four?" (1.414)

    Technically, Old Nick is family. He's Jack's dad. And it's really weird when he acts like a dad, albeit a really terrible, horrible, no-good, bad dad. He doesn't know how old Jack is, or remember his birthday, but he still wants to bring him a present.

    Ma

    "You look like me. I guess because you're made of me, like my spit is. Same brown eyes, same big mouth, same pointy chin…" (1.61)

    Ma is explaining what she means by calling Jack "the dead spit of me," but she's also doing a good job of explaining DNA and genetics on a level that a five-year-old can understand.

    Part 2: Unlying
    Ma

    "I forgot to say, of course she takes her baby, JackerJack, with her, he's all knotted up in her hair." (2.215)

    Ma often tells stories about heroic children named Jack. However, in this story, it's more about the character's mother and how she escapes… and how she almost forgets to bring her child with him. What's the significance of this story, and this omission?

    Jack

    "I thought he was going to punish us too." I try to imagine. "Like if there were two Rooms, if he put me in one and you in the other one." (2.430)

    Ma is the only person Jack knows, so he is incredibly close to her. To him, the worst punishment is to be separated from his mother. That's awfully sweet… and borderline Norman Bates, but he's only five, so we're sticking with "sweet" for now.

    Part 4: After

    The man who's Grandpa is gone past me without looking, he's nearly at the door. (4.1126)

    Defining family isn't easy, especially when the family is as complicated as this one. Grandpa has trouble accepting Jack as an addition to the family. To Grandpa, Jack is only evidence that his daughter was raped. He can't see Jack as his Grandson, only as that horrible reminder.

    Ma

    "I think what babies want is mostly to have their mothers right there." (4.1277)

    Ma definitely thinks that an intense bond between mother and child instantly exists. She'd do anything to protect him, so when the talk show host asks her if things were "difficult," Ma doesn't think of it that way. It wasn't hard or easy; it's just what she had to do.

    "It would have been a sacrifice, of course—the ultimate sacrifice—but if Jack could have had a normal, happy childhood with a loving family?" "He had me." Ma says it one word at a time. (4.1345-4.1346)

    Ma is insulted by the talk show host, who implies that Jack would have been better off with a "loving family." Ma is his mother. Shouldn't she be family enough? And doesn't she love Jack enough?

    Grandma and Steppa

    "Of course, of course." The Grandma comes a bit closer. (4.419)

    This is Jack's first time meeting Ma's mother, and he doesn't yet understand that he can just call her "Grandma" instead of "the Grandma." It takes Jack a while to understand that everyone has a family, not just Ma, and that her family is his family, too.

    Part 5: Living

    My family is Grandma Steppa Bronwyn Uncle Paul Deana and Grandpa, only he shudders at me. Also Ma. (5.1)

    Jack is starting to realize that the people Ma is related to are his family too, whether he wants them to be or not. He also understands that just because they're family doesn't mean that they like him… and vice-versa.

    Jack

    "I came down and I was a kid like you, I lived with my mother and father." I shake my head. "You're the mother." (2.486-2.487)

    Jack has a hard time understanding the intricacies of family at first—it's weird for him that his mother also had a mother. He thought his only family was Ma, and that her only family was him, but it's actually much larger than that. One thing Jack keeps learning is how much bigger and more complex the world is than he thinks, and this is a good example of that.

  • Time

    Part 1: Presents
    Jack

    [Ma] gets sick of things fast, it's from being an adult. (1.497)

    It's true that kids have longer attention spans than adults, at least when it comes to certain things. But being forced to entertain himself with very little, Jack has a very long attention span compared to most other kids. When he's doing stuff that he loves, it doesn't feel like any time is passing at all, whereas time seems to be dragging and dragging for poor Ma, having to read Dylan the Digger over and over again.

    Waiting for my cake takes hour and hours. (1.215)

    Unless the cake is burned black by the time it comes out of the oven, there's no way it takes this long to bake. Jack just thinks it takes so long, because it does take so long in kid time… when he's not doing something to keep his mind occupied, time goes by so slowly.

    "Next week when I'll be six you better get candles." "Next year," says Ma, "you mean next year." Her eyes are shut. They always do that sometimes and she doesn't say anything for a minute. (1.251-1.252)

    Jack doesn't understand the difference between a week and a year, because both are still an insane amount of time for a five-year-old. Ma, however, does understand the difference, and she cannot bear having to spend another year trapped inside Room.

    There's hours and hours, hundreds of them. (2.127)

    A day just has twenty-four hours, and Jack is probably only awake for sixteen of them, tops. But when he's bored, without Ma, the hours seem like they're stretched out forever and ever.

    Today I'm five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five, abracadabra. Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero. "Was I minus numbers?" (1.1)

    Jack understands a lot at five, but he still has a rough grasp of time. He doesn't yet understand that he is getting older every single day, not just magically clicking over from four to five on the night of his birthday.

    Part 3: Dying
    Jack

    Stopped, the truck's stopped again, I'm not out already, I was meant to jump at the first. (3.735)

    Jack already has a very poor concept of time. Add panic to the mix, and he completely loses all sense of it. He has no idea how long he's in the truck; all he knows is that it's been too long, and he fears that it's too late to attempt an escape.

    Part 4: After

    "You'll be with your uncle and aunt all the time, you'll be perfectly safe. Or would you rather leave it till another day?" Yeah but no because another day the dinosaurs might be gone. "Today, please." (4.1379-1380)

    Jack is starting to realize that, in the Outside world, things change as time passes, unlike in Room, where things seemed to remain static, or at least repeat like a twisted version of Groundhog Day. In the Outside world, if too much time passes, some things are gone forever.

    Jack

    At 06:12 Noreen brings another whole different tray that's dinner, we can have dinner at five something or six something or even seven something, Ma says. (4.511)

    In Room, Jack was always aware of the time, but it seems that he's even more aware of it in the Outside. He's starting to realize that time is merely a suggestion, not a hard and fast rule to abide by when setting things such as mealtimes.

    Part 5: Living
    Jack

    In the world I notice persons are nearly always stressed and have no time. Even Grandma often says that, but she and Steppa don't have jobs, so I don't know how persons with jobs do the jobs and all the living as well. In Room me and Ma had time for everything. (5.559)

    Good question, Jack. We don't quite understand it either. It seems that the more obligations you have, the less time you have to do them in, whether it's a job, family, or being home for the latest episode of So You Think You Can Dance.

    Ma

    "Well, the thing about breasts is, if they don't get drunk from, they figure, OK, nobody needs our milk anymore, we'll stop making it." (5.824)

    After Jack spends time apart from Ma, she is unable to breastfeed him. But the time spent apart also makes Jack realize that he doesn't need to be breastfed anymore. Maybe time apart from each other is healthy for Ma and Jack, after all.

  • Wisdom and Knowledge

    Part 1: Presents
    Ma

    "Then I'd be hooked." "What's—?" "Like stuck on a hook, because I'd need [painkillers] all the time." (1.86-1.88)

    Ma has to explain almost everything to Jack. He's only five. She has a great ability to explain the idioms that people use all the time without thinking. And she has incredible patience since she's able to define all of these things for her son so many times a day.

    Jack

    I know that already, everything's breakable. (1.552)

    This is a pretty profound line from a five-year-old. Most kids don't learn to take care of their things for a very, very long time. Jack has learned this lesson pretty early.

    "Listen. What we see on TV is… it's pictures of real things." That's the most astonishing I ever heard. (1.101-1.102)

    Revealing to Jack that TV is kind of real opens up a whole new world for Jack to learn about. This revelation changes Jack's entire world, making him think about everything in a whole new way.

    I'd love to watch TV all the time but it rots our brains. (1.100)

    Ma uses TV mostly to educate Jack, watching educational shows like Dora and playing the Parrot game—in which Jack repeats back what people say—to build his vocabulary. She limits the use of TV, though, because most TV isn't educational at all, especially not to a five-year-old.

    Sometimes I forget things. Ma tells me and I remember them after that. (1.161)

    Ma is pretty patient, but Jack is patient, too. Even at a young age, he realizes that he sometimes forgets things, but this doesn't frustrate him. He just knows he has to be reminded of things, and everything will be okay.

    Part 2: Unlying
    Jack

    Alice says she can't explain herself because she's not herself, she knows who she was this morning but she's changed several times since then. (2.116)

    Jack is talking about Alice in Wonderland here, and he's relating it to himself. When Jack's view of the world changes because of new knowledge, he changes right along with it. His identity, especially at such a young age, is closely tied together with how he sees the world, and how he thinks he fits in it.

    Stories are a different kind of true. (2.271)

    Lots of the "stories" Ma tells Jack, like How the Berlin Wall Fell Down and Princess Diana are stories of actual events. Even the fairytales, like the mermaid who has a child in captivity, are allegories. Is there anything allegorical about Room itself?

    Ma

    "I wouldn't lie to you about this," Ma says while I'm slurping the juice. "I couldn't tell you before, because you were too small to understand, so I guess I was sort of lying to you then. But now you're five, I think you can understand." (2.533)

    Ma knows that Jack is much wiser than your average five-year-old. His curiosity and passion for knowledge make it easier for him to understand complicated concepts. Ma is confident he'll eventually get them, which is why she shares so much with him, without sugarcoating things, as he gets older.

    Part 3: Dying
    Jack

    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. (3.20)

    The more knowledge Jack gets, the more he thinks he knows everything. He doesn't yet have the knowledge to know that he will never know everything.

    Part 4: After
    Jack

    "I don't want there to be bad stories and me not know them." (4.1051)

    Jack wants to know everything, and we mean everything, even if it makes him feel uncomfortable, scared, or weird. That's pretty ambitious for someone of any age.

  • Freedom and Confinement

    Part 1: Presents
    Ma

    "Why am I hided away like the chocolates?" I think [Ma is] sitting on Bed. She talks quiet so I can hardly hear. "I just don't want him looking at you. Even when you were a baby, I always wrapped you up in Blanket before he came in." (1.289-1.290)

    Jack isn't just confined in Room, he's sometimes confined in a Wardrobe within Room. That's double confinement. Just as parents want to protect their kids from things in the outside world, Ma has to find a way to protect Jack even though their "world" is only 121 square feet.

    After nap we do Scream every day but not Saturdays or Sundays. We clear our throats and climb up on Table to be nearer Skylight, holding hands not to fall. (1.499)

    Jack thinks this is just another activity he and Ma do, like Catch or Track. He doesn't quite understand why they sit silently afterwards. What they're doing is screaming for help. Ma hopes someone will hear them and let them out of Room.

    I think [Ma]'s still cranky about moving the furniture, that was a crazy plan. (1.535)

    For Ma, it would be nice to mix up the furniture arrangement inside Room. That's about all she can do to keep it fresh. But Jack enjoys the way everything stays the same, so she doesn't do it; she wants to keep him comfortable.

    Another rule is, the wide of the walls is the same as the wide of Floor, I count eleven feet going both ways, that means Floor is a square. (1.185)

    And that means that Ma has been inside an 11x11 room for eight years. It's all Jack knows, and he's small, so it's not that strange for him, but Ma's claustrophobia must be out of control.

    Jack

    "Do we go into TV for dreaming?" "No. We're never anywhere but here." Her voice sounds a long way away. (1.601-1.602)

    Although Jack can pick up on the change in Ma's tone of voice, he doesn't understand why she sounds this way. She's been trapped inside Room for eight years, with nowhere else to go. Not a day goes by without her wishing she was out of there.

    Part 2: Unlying
    Ma

    "I knew my only chance was to make [Old Nick] give me the code. So I pressed the knife against his throat, like this." (2.770)

    We doubt Ma is normally a violent person, but being trapped will make a person go to extremes. Ma would probably kill Old Nick, given the chance, if it meant that she could get out of Room for good.

    Ma stops, she puffs out a long breath. "I need to hit something," she says, "but I don't want to break anything." "Why not?" "Actually, I'd love to break something. I'd love to break everything." (2.605-2.607)

    With the power out in Room, Ma feels increasingly trapped and she wants to break out even more. But she can't. So the urge to break out becomes the urge to simply break something in order to vent all that pent-up rage at being pent up.

    Part 3: Dying
    Jack

    "We could smash down the walls." But we don't have a jeep to smash them down or a bulldozer even. "We could… blow up Door." (3.81)

    Jack is coming up with ideas from cartoons, which is a nice thought. If only escape in real life was as easy as it is in the cartoons. Our calls to Acme for a big crate of dynamite always go unanswered… and probably have us monitored by the NSA.

    Oh, I have to Wriggle Out, I was forgetting. I start to do like a snake, but Rug's got tighter I don't know how, I'm stuck I'm stuck. (3.730)

    Jack goes into claustrophobic panic at being stuck inside Rug. We have to wonder if this is how Ma feels inside Room, which feels like it's getting tighter and tighter around her every day.

    Part 4: After
    Ma

    "Not just children," says Ma. "People are locked up in all sorts of ways." (4.1319)

    Ma is irritated about having to talk about her captivity on TV, because she knows that others have been through it and are going through it all the time. She isn't special. She's talking about both literal captivity—whether it's other girls like her, or the slaves of the past—and the figurative captivity that comes from, say, being in an abusive relationship. Everyone wants to break free of something, and that is why so many people identify with Ma and Jack and their plight.

  • Exploration

    Part 1: Presents

    Then the wonderfulest thing, Mouse puts his mouth out, it's pointy. I nearly jump in the air but I don't, I stay extra still. (1.356)

    Mouse is the first living thing from Outside Room that Jack has ever seen, and he regards it like he regards everything: with wide-eyed child-like reverence.

    Part 2: Unlying
    Ma

    "[The air]'s fresher. In the summer, it smells of cut grass, because we're in his backyard. Sometimes I get a glimpse of shrubs and hedges." (2.668)

    Ma is starting to describe the Outside that lies directly on the other side of Door. These are a lot of details for Jack to absorb at once, though. He likes the smell, but trying to visualize it all is too much. It's going to take him a while to work up the ability to explore it all.

    I get the plastic right off and I suck [the lollipop] and suck it, it's the sweetest thing I ever had. I wonder if this is what Outside tastes like. (2.394)

    This is the first lollipop Jack has had, which came from Outside. It's also the first time he seems genuinely curious about leaving Room and exploring what Outside has to offer. He'll learn that he can never explore everything. Like trying to figure out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop: the world may never know… and Jack may never know the world, at least completely.

    Part 3: Dying
    Ma

    "You don't even know what it's doing to you." [Ma's] voice is shaky. "You need to see things, touch things—" (3.251)

    Ma longs for Jack to explore Outside more than Jack does. Jack is content staying inside Room, his home, but Ma knows how many wonderful things are Outside for him to experience.

    Part 4: After

    My favorite bit of Outside is the window. It's different every time. A bird goes right by zoom, I don't know what it was. The shadows are all long again now, mine waves right across our room on the green wall. (4.512)

    Looking out the window is the only way Jack is comfortable exploring his surroundings at first. As a kid who enjoys TV so much, this isn't unusual. It's a way for Jack to explore Outside without actually having to interact with it.

    There's anyones too near eating strange squares with little squares all over and curly bacons. (4.310)

    Everything is so new to Jack, it's sometimes difficult to realize at first what he's describing. Here, he's in the cafeteria breakfast room, and everyone is eating waffles. Jack really does have to learn everything out in the world (but don't we all?). Good thing no one tells him to leggo my Eggo, or his head might explode.

    Jack

    Pictures in the window are like in TV but blurrier, I see cars that are parked, a cement mixer, a motorbike and a car trailer with one two three four five cars on it, that's my best number. In a front yard a kid pushing a wheelbarrow with a little kid in it, that's funny. There's a dog crossing a road with a human on a rope, I think it's actually tied, not like the daycare that were just holding on. Traffic lights changing to green and a woman with crutches hopping and a huge bird on a trash, Deana says that's just a gull, they eat anything and everything. (4.1402)

    Whew, that's one paragraph. One long, exhausting paragraph. Of course, it's not exhausting to Jack. While he's listing a whole bunch of mundane objects, they're all new and fascinating for him to see. Each of these things flying by as the car zooms down the room provides Jack with an opportunity for exploration.

    Ma

    I find a triangularish thing the big of my nose that Noreen says is a rock. "It's millions of years old," says Ma. How does she know? I look at the under, there's no label. (4.874-4.876)

    Jack explores the world the only way he knows how, through the lens of Room, where he has grown up. Everything in Room was bought for him, so it would have a label or some sort of identifier. He doesn't yet understand that there are things in nature that have been around a lot longer than labels have.

    "Will we go explore?" "Where?" "Outside." "We're in Outside already." "Yeah, but let's go out in the fresh air and look for the cat," says Ma. (4.247-4.251)

    Jack doesn't yet understand that there are different versions of Outside. For him, being cooped up in a hospital is a world of difference from being cooped up inside Room. But for Ma, being cooped up anywhere is still being cooped up… she wants to be in the outdoors, and she wants to convince Jack to come with her.

    Part 5: Living

    At Grandma's house, she shows me France on the globe that's like a statue of the world and always spinning. This whole entire city we're in is just a dot and the Clinic's in the dot too. (5.151)

    Grandma is really broadening Jack's horizons now by showing him the globe. It seems that Jack's world grows bigger and bigger every day. This is the first time he has realized (even though he doesn't quite get it yet) that where he is right now barely registers on the globe.

  • The Home

    Part 2: Unlying
    Ma

    "I'm from somewhere else, like [Alice]." (2.484)

    This is when Ma reveals that she used to have a home outside of Room. The fact that a home can be a place other than Room is still incomprehensible to Jack. Heck, Jack can hardly believe that there are any other places besides Room, whether they're homes or not.

    "It's the real world, you wouldn't believe how big it is. […] Room's only a tiny stinky piece of it." "Room's not stinky." I'm nearly growling. "It's only stinky sometimes when you do a fart." (2.520-2.521)

    Room is a place of captivity for Ma, but it's Jack's home. Because he's so attached to it, he defends Room when Ma insults it… and he insults her back as a form of revenge.

    Part 3: Dying
    Ma

    "Oh, Jack," [Ma] says, "we're never going back." The car starts moving and I'm crying so much I can't stop. (3.1001-3.1002)

    It's difficult for us to tell why Jack is crying here. Is he crying because he thought Ma was dead, but she's actually been saved? Or is he crying because he's never going back to Room, the only place he knows as his home?

    I'm not in Room. Am I still me? (3.728)

    This is a pretty philosophical question. Jack highly identifies with his home. It's the only place he's ever been. Being outside gives him absolutely no context. Who is he when he has lost his home?

    Jack

    "Let's just stay." (3.246)

    This is Jack's response when Ma tries to think of a plan of escape. Do you think Jack wants to stay out of fear, or does he want to stay because Room is home? Or is it a little bit of both?

    Part 4: After
    Jack

    In Room I was safe and Outside is the scary. (4.1004)

    A home is a place you feel safe. It takes a long time for Jack to find a safe place when he's in the Outside. No wonder he wants to go back to Room even though other people, including Ma, see it as a prison.

    Ma

    "[Dr. Clay] figures, soon you won't remember Room anymore." "I will too." I stare at [Ma]. "Am I meant to forget?" "I don't know." (4.852-4.854)

    Ma is conflicted because she definitely wants to forget Room. It's where she was held captive for seven years. But she understands that it is actually home to Jack. It's where he was raised. What will he lose if he forgets his home?

    Actually I don't have the old five books now so I guess I just have the new five. The ones in Room, maybe they don't belong to anyone anymore. (4.650)

    Jack personifies almost everything, so of course he worries that his old books are now homeless. To Jack, Room no longer exists. And since Jack defines a home as a place where something belongs, if his books don't belong anywhere, they don't have a home. Jack is dealing with the same problem himself. Where does he belong?

    Part 5: Living
    Jack

    How is it home if I've never been here? (5.808)

    This is a good question. Ma calls her new apartment "home" mostly out of a hope that it will be. Jack understands, at five, that they will have to make it a home; it doesn't come ready-made that way.

    I'm in the house with the hammock. (5.1)

    Note that Jack calls Grandma's home "the house" at first. He doesn't call it home because he doesn't yet feel comfortable there.