Study Guide

Room Part 1: Presents

By Emma Donoghue

Part 1: Presents

  • It's our narrator's fifth birthday. He seems to sleep in a wardrobe that he just calls "Wardrobe" (1.1) with a capital W and everything.
  • He also looks "through Skylight" (1.5) while his Ma "leans out of Bed to switch on Lamp." (1.6) Lamp seems to be male. We guess it isn't the one from A Christmas Story, which is the only lamp whose gender we've ever been able to accurately determine—though who knows? Fishnets look good on everyone.
  • Ma gives our narrator a birthday present: a pencil drawing of him asleep.
  • He thinks it's strange that Ma drew him in his sleep. Who is she, Edward Cullen?
  • They hide the drawing in Wardrobe so Old Nick, whoever that is, won't see it.
  • Ma and our narrator sing songs by Kylie Minogue and Chumbawumba while they eat cereal for breakfast. What? No Savage Garden?
  • There is snow on Skylight, so Room is a little dark.
  • At 8:30, our narrator watches Dora the Explorer. He's only allowed to watch one show because TV "rots our brains" (1.100)
  • After Dora, our narrator stands against the wall and gets measured, now that he's five.
  • After that, it's time for a bath and then Phys Ed. Ma and our narrator play Track, where they race around Room. Then they play Trampoline, which involves jumping on Bed. Then they play Simon Says and Corpse before lunch.
  • They have tuna and crackers for lunch, then Ma reads the book Dylan the Digger out loud.
  • Whew. It's been an exhausting day, so it's time for a nap!
  • Nap is pretty energizing. Our narrator is ready to measure Room afterward. They make a ruler and discover that Room is 11 feet by 11 feet. We've been in bathrooms bigger than that.
  • The dinner menu consists of spaghetti, but there's birthday cake after!
  • Ma has a surprise for Jack (we finally find out that's his name!): five chocolates she hid inside Cabinet.
  • Jack is upset because he wanted candles on his cake. Ma tries to explain why she didn't ask Old Nick for any for Sunday treat. She says she'll get some next year.
  • Ma presses the chocolates into the cake to act as imaginary candles.
  • It's too late for TV after cake, so Ma makes a grocery list and puts it with the garbage bag.
  • Jack retreats into Wardrobe to sleep for the night.
  • Old Nick doesn't come that night, so Jack sneaks into bed with his Ma.
  • The next day is much like the previous day, in a Groundhog Day (but not funny) kind of way. Breakfast. TV. Etc.
  • Today, however, Jack sees a mouse. He says, "He's alive for real, he's the biggest alive thing I ever saw" (1.356).
  • The mouse is barely alive for long because Ma tries to kill him by whacking him with a book called Pop-Up Airport. She rips the Baggage Claim.
  • Ma crumples up some aluminum foil and pushes it into the crack where the mouse came out.
  • That night, they have time to watch TV after dinner. They briefly watch boxing and play a game of Parrot, where Jack listens to what people are saying on TV and repeats it back to build vocabulary.
  • One of the shows they watch is a talk show with a "puffy-hair woman" (1.387) on a couch.
  • Later the door beeps, signaling Old Nick's arrival. Ma shuts Jack away in Wardrobe.
  • Old Nick's grouchy, complaining about stale cake and wondering why Ma never lets him see Jack, not even to try on the jeans he bought him.
  • Jack hears Old Nick get into bed with Ma, and he counts how many times the bed creaks: 217.
  • The next morning, Ma and Jack fight a bit. Jack wants a puppy for a present, or at least he wants to keep the mouse. Ma isn't a fan of either of those ideas.
  • After Nap, Ma and Jack climb up as close to Skylight as possible and play Scream. That's when they "shout holler howl yowl shriek screech scream the loudest possible" (1.499).
  • Jack has a present the next morning: a remote-control Jeep. Old Nick brought it as a late birthday present.
  • Jack plays with his Jeep and he and his Ma talk about whether or not to thank Old Nick. (Ma thinks: No way, José.)
  • When he's put in Wardrobe for the night, Jack asks if they "go into the TV for dreaming?" (1.601) Ma responds, "No. We're never anywhere but here." (1.602)
  • Old Nick comes in that night. Jack turns on Jeep from inside Wardrobe and sends it rolling off the shelf.
  • The crash freaks out Old Nick. He wakes up and storms out of Room.
  • Ma is not happy. Jack tries to talk to her, but she won't respond other than to say "go to sleep" (1.634).
  • Jack has a hard time getting to sleep that night.