Study Guide

Room Part 4: After

By Emma Donoghue

Part 4: After

  • "Vultures" (4.3) are circling as Officer Oh takes Jack and Ma to the police station, but these vultures aren't birds… they're paparazzi.
  • Jack is super overwhelmed by everything going on at the police station.
  • An officer interviews Ma to figure out what happened.
  • While Ma is being interviewed, she breastfeeds Jack, and a woman stares at them. Ma says, "I'm nursing my son, is that OK with you, lady?" (4.34).
  • Ma then takes Jack to the bathroom. He's weirded out by the automatic flush toilet, saying, "I don't like a clever toilet looking at our butts" (4.42). Well, when you put it that way…
  • He also doesn't understand why she throws his underwear away. They never threw anything away in Room.
  • Next they go to a hospital. A man named Dr. Clay puts masks on them, because Jack hasn't been exposed to, well, any Outside germs in five years.
  • Another doctor, Dr. Kendrick, runs tests on Ma while Jack watches TV.
  • On TV, Jack sees himself and his Ma on the local news. Jack is described as a "malnourished boy, unable to walk […] lashing out convulsively at one of his rescuers" (4.84).
  • Jack doesn't understand how he and Ma are in the TV…
  • After Ma's tests, the doctors want to do tests on Jack. Ma doesn't want them do, but she agrees to let them take care of his cuts.
  • Dr. Clay does manage to draw some blood from Jack, giving him a sucker and a Dora Band-Aid afterward.
  • The next day, Jack learns about blinds and how he doesn't have to eat breakfast before taking a bath. Now that they're Outside, they can do whatever they want.
  • Jack takes a shower with Ma but doesn't like it very much. The water is too loud. But at least he gets to wear a nice fluffy robe after.
  • After the dress, Ma decides they should go outside and explore. Jack slides down the stairs on his butt.
  • On the way out, Jack and Ma go through a room that "has all tables" and "so many with plates and glasses and knives." (4.297) Jack doesn't know the word cafeteria yet. He bumps into one of the tables and it pokes his tummy.
  • Ma realizes that it's Easter, and Jack gets to take a chocolate egg from a dish on the table.
  • Jack is too overwhelmed to eat breakfast… or go Outside at this point, so Noreen, a nurse, brings some plates up to their room for them.
  • Back upstairs, Jack has pancakes and eggs and his Easter chocolate, then falls asleep.
  • After naptime, Dr. Clay comes in and gives Jack a bunch of shots. He also lets Ma know that Jack keeps bumping into things because "he hasn't needed to learn to gauge distance" (4.374).
  • Dr. Clay then interviews Ma a bit and tells her they should do a DNA test to ensure that Old Nick doesn't get off on a technicality.
  • Dr. Clay also questions Jack about whether or not Old Nick hurt him, finding out that he only hurt Jack when he dropped him in the truck on the night of his escape.
  • The next day, Noreen brings a bunch of new clothes for Jack and Ma. They're trying them on when Grandma comes in: Ma's mom.
  • It surprises Ma to find out that her mother and father have divorced. Grandpa is living in Canberra, Australia, and Grandma has remarried a man named Leo.
  • The reunion is a little tense because of these revelations, and because Grandma mentions that she thought Ma might have run away.
  • Later the next day, Jack gets a cold and is afraid he's going to die. Ma assures him that he won't and helps him blow his nose a lot.
  • That day, Jack and Ma finally get to go outside. They've given Jack some shades because he's not used to sunlight.
  • When Jack panics, Noreen has him breathe in a paper bag. Hopefully it doesn't have a tuna salad sandwich or similar inside.
  • They don't get to do much Outside, but it's a start.
  • Grandma comes later and brings some books for Jack. The classics, like The Giving Tree and The Lorax. Jack still has trouble getting close to Grandma.
  • Then the lawyer, Morris, comes and talks about suing newspapers for invasion of privacy to make money. Also, he says they've been getting lots of donations from strangers. Some of the donations are poop, actual poop, which makes us fear for the safety of our Salvation Army bell ringers.
  • But they also get toys, and Ma lets Jack keep five. He keeps six but doesn't tell her that he took an extra.
  • Jack overhears a few things we're not sure if he understands. Ma had another baby before Jack, but that baby was stillborn. Also, they're hoping Old Nick gets twenty-five to life with no parole. We hope that Cell is much more difficult to live in than Room was.
  • It turns out that Jack did kind of understand what he was hearing. He asks Ma about the first baby.
  • Ma tells Jack that the baby went to Heaven and suggests that "Maybe it really was you, and a year later you tried again and came back down as a boy" (4.775).
  • The next day Jack gets to color and go outside. He plays in the grass, and looks at flowers and rocks.
  • Before they go back inside, they play with a maple key, the seed of a maple tree with little wings, throwing them up in the air and watching them spin back down.
  • After Nap, Grandma brings more visitors: Ma's brother, Paul, and his wife, Deana. They mention they have a little girl named Bronwyn.
  • They leave, and Jack picks up the newspaper. It's a terribly written article (this must be the Inquirer or the New York Post) about Jack as a "long-haired Little Prince" who escaped a "Garden-shed Ogre" (4.953). They call Jack the "Bonsai Boy" (4.955).
  • Jack has been having lots of bad dreams at night, so Dr. Clay tells him that his "brain is probably doing a spring cleaning" (4.1001). Bad dreams are like dust bunnies, we guess.
  • They find a room with computers and Ma e-mails people and learns about a new invention that is a "book of faces" (4.1018). Is that Facebook or is that like "binders full of women"?
  • Paul gives Ma an iPod and she plays "All You Need is Love" for Jack.
  • To explain the song, she tells him a story about baby monkeys who were separated from their moms at a young age… they didn't grow up right.
  • The story really upsets Jack, and Ma feels bad for telling it. Then she proceeds to tell Jack that Santa isn't real, that the Easter Bunny is dead, and that the Tooth Fairy is unemployed.
  • Ma feels worse the next day after a visit to the dentist (ick) and a visit fromher father.
  • That visit turns out to be a double-ick, because Grandpa wishes Jack had never been born.
  • The next day, Ma decides to do a TV talk show to put all the rumors to rest. It's with the puffy-hair woman whom Jack recognizes from TV.
  • They agree not to photograph or film Jack while he's in the room (you know, because paparazzi are so ethical).
  • The interview doesn't go too well. The woman asks questions that are off-limits, and makes a big deal out of the fact that Ma still breastfeeds Jack.
  • Finally, Ma gets irritated. She says, "I wish people would stop treating us like we're the only ones who ever lived through something terrible" (4.1315).
  • When Ma starts crying, Jack runs from his chair to wrap her in his blanket.
  • The next day, Ma is Gone. While Ma stays in bed, Jack goes with Uncle Paul, Deana, and Bronwyn to the Natural History Museum to look at dinosaurs.
  • They have to stop at the mall first, and it's a hectic visit to say the least (and it isn't even Christmas rush).
    • Jack gets a Dora the Explorer backpack.
    • Jack's scared to go in the men's bathroom, so he goes to the women's bathroom with Deana and Bronwyn.
    • When Jack touches Bronwyn's private parts, Deana slaps him. Her ring cuts him, and he bleeds.
    • Jack sees a Dylan the Digger book in a bookstore. He thinks it's his, so he steals it.
    • Brownyn sneaks into a clothing store and licks the glass while her parents aren't looking.
  • Just a normal day at the mall, huh?
  • When Jack gets back to the clinic, Ma has overdosed on sleeping pills. Yikes. What a way to end the day.