Discussion questions and answers for Room by Emma Donoghue
Below you will find the questions my book club looked at and the answers given, if you haven’t read the book yet this may spoil it for you so please stop here and return after you have read it.
1. Why do you think the entire book is told in Jack’s voice? Do you think it is effective?
It makes the book more emotive, Jacks point of view and how he describes things is so unique.
If told in Ma’s voice it would be too traumatic. The adult perspective of her kidnapping, rapes, life confined, what she is missing, how she is feeling and other issues would be too graphic and painful to read.
It is very effective and the ideal approach
2. What are some of the ways in which Jack’s development has been stunted by growing up in Room? How has he benefited?
STUNTED; Physically smaller, no social skills due to only interacting with Ma. Malnourished, no immune-system. No understanding of how the world works. Unable to understand the complexity of relationships. Emotionally stunted, he would need to learn how to interact.
BENEFITTED; His relationship with Ma is deeper and closer than most. He is very advanced in maths and English. He is very mature in his thoughts and ideas.
3. If you were Ma, what would you miss most about the outside world?
Family. Fresh air. Scenery. Safety. Freedom. Choices.
4. What would you do differently if you were Jack’s parent? Would you tell Jack about the outside world from the start?
No age 5 seemed appropriate. Ma had to keep ‘outside’ as an unknown so that Jack didn’t know what he was missing and crave it, also so that he could enjoy the little he had.
5. If Ma had never given birth to Jack, what would her situation in Room be like?
Demoralising. Jack gives her something to live for and lots to do. If on her own she would have dwelt on what she was missing more and would not have occupied herself. She would have become very depressed and would probably have attempted to kill herself.
6. What would you ask for, for Sunday treat, if you were Jack? If you were Ma?
Sweets, a pet, paper and pens.
Whatever Jack wanted that Old Nick could get. Something to do – craft and art materials or more books.
7. Describe the dynamic between Old Nick and Ma. Why does the author choose not to tell us Old Nick’s story?
Ma is subservient and does whatever he says as long as it does not affect Jack negatively.
Old Nick is domineering, controlling, cruel and treats Ma like a sex slave. He provides for her needs because he enjoys having somebody to control.
Old Nick’s story would not add anything to the book, it would in fact detract from Jack and Ma’s story. We are told enough to get an insight him. As it is told from Jacks point of view we can only be told what he knows and he doesn’t know much about Old Nick to tell us anyway.
8. What does joining the outside world do to Jack? To Ma?
It terrifies him at first, everything is strange and has never been experienced before. He goes into sensory overload. Then he adapts as children are so good at doing.
It eventually liberates her, it is easier for her to adjust at first because everything is familiar but she also has time to explore her true feelings from her captivity which causes a breakdown.
9. What role do you think the media play in the novel?
This is necessary to add authenticity to the story as this is what would happen if it were a true story but Jack and Ma have a good team around them who protect them from the worst the media can do.
10. In a similar situation, how would you teach a child the difference between the real world and what they watch on television?
We all thought that we wouldn’t be able to improve on how Ma handled it.
11. Why are we so fascinated by stories of long-term confinement?
This book particularly because Jack was born confined. Accounts of real-life confinements in the media were brought to mind and discussed.
12. What were you most affected by in the novel?
Jacks maturity which was combined so well with his naivety. That people can endure so much and be O.K. Finding out how traumatic it was for them both.
13. What did you like?
The fact that it was written in Jack’s voice.
The truly nice person Jack is. Maybe being confined for his most formative first 5 years actually shielded him from the cynicism and nastiness displayed by some ‘normal’ children.
14. What did you dislike?
Real grandpa’s reaction even though this was understandable and realistic.
Personal read 5/5 Amazing psychological drama, unputdownable.
Group read 5/5 Amazing discussion ensued, we could have talked for hours.