Study Guide

Room Time

By Emma Donoghue


When you're trapped inside a Room, time can either pass super slowly or go by before you know it. All depends on what you're doing. Just think about being trapped in an airplane bathroom versus being trapped in a casino. Where do you think time passes more quickly?

Being only five, Jack doesn't have the strongest grasp of time, especially when he's bored. When Jack has nothing to do in Room, he acts like hundreds of thousands of hours pass. When he's occupied, however, the day is over before he can even think about it.

Ma experiences her own issues with time. For her, it feels as if she's remained still for seven years, while the world outside Room has kept going and going. When she leaves she finds out that technology has evolved, that her family has changed, and that even her friends have moved on without her in the last seven years. Time might heal some wounds, but others it opens anew.

Questions About Time

  1. When does time pass the slowest for Jack? When does it pass fastest?
  2. Do you think time ever passes quickly for Ma? Or is every day in Room slow and drawn out?
  3. Morris the lawyer suggests that Ma lost the "best years of [her] life" (4.695). Is Ma's time a commodity that was stolen? Was all her time in Room wasted?

Chew on This

By scheduling every day and making the most out of every minute, Ma makes a wise time investment in Jack. If she hadn't done that, she might never have broken out.

Because Jack's life so scheduled, he has trouble adapting to the Outside world, where things don't operate on the same fixed schedule as they did in Room.