Study Guide

Room The Home

By Emma Donoghue

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.