Very good comments, Lale, and worth the wait. I've posted some responses after yours.
: - I found the first part of the book interesting
: although the boy's narration lost whatever charm it
: had pretty quickly. It became tiresome and repetitive.
: I think it was a mistake on the part of the author to
: rely on the boy's narration for so long. On the other
: hand, at least for the part that takes place in the
: room, the two other narrator options, mother or third
: person, would not have worked. So maybe it was smart
: to let the boy tell the story but it become stale
: after a while. So, maybe the solution could have been
: to switch the narration to the mother in the second
: part of the book.
I liked the idea of having the child tell the story from his perception of reality. It immediately brings to mind Plato's "Allegory of the Cave." I just think the author made Jack's adaptation to "outside" too quick and easy to be convincing, so the narrative approach quickly loses its purpose.
: - There were some things that didn't make sense to me,
: they may be trivial but I really got hung up on them.
: I couldn't get used to the boy's calling his mother
: ma , that didn't make sense to me. Sharon (yes, her
: name was mentioned only once, bravo Steven, you are as
: careful as I am) calls her own mother mom, and ma
: seems to be a little outdated for her modern family,
: why would she choose that form of address? When the
: book started with "ma" I expected a whole
: different setting, maybe a southern farm or something.
"Mama" would have been more convincing. Most parents try to make this their child's first word. Kid's later use other terms because that's what they hear other people say. It would have made sense for Jack simply to stick with "Mama" for lack of hearing any alternative.
: - The boy seems to be super intelligent, he teaches
: himself how to read with very limited resources and at
: a very early age. But he seemed to be easily accepting
: many nonsensical lies. He cannot not know that there
: is an outside, because the man is coming from outside,
: the food is coming from outside, the mouse came from
: outside and he wanted a dog from outside. With the
: help of the television, I think he would have figured
: out very early on that they are trapped in this one
: little space when there is a whole world outside.
: However, I am going to allow this because children are
: eager to overlook the evidence when they are told
: otherwise by authority or by people they love (usually
: the same people: parents). My daughter continued to
: believe in Santa Claus against all the evidence to the
: contrary. She believed that the reindeer were eating
: the apples she was putting out on the eve of
: Christmas. So maybe Jack did have suspicions but his
: beloved ma was telling him otherwise so he went along.
I didn't think of him being super intelligent but just reflecting the fact that his mother had nothing else to do but play with him and teach him all day long. She seems to have given a lot of thought to how to raise her child with the resources at her disposal.
Your daughter probably convinced you she still believed in Santa Claus because she thought the presents would stop if she admitted she knew the truth. My little sister had my parents snowed well into her teens.
: - Religion was hard to believe. The mother did not
: seem to be a religious person, she wasn't coming from
: a religious family, and yet there were these praying
: sessions. Maybe they just needed. She is a very smart
: person and she may have thought that this was
: necessary to their well-being.
Good point. I know of parents who take their kids to church because they think it's good for their moral development even when the parents themselves don't believe.
: - Breast feeding was very creepy but I understood
: Sharon's point of view when she explained to her
: mother that "there was no good reason to
: stop." Imagine the circumstances, there is
: nothing else to do, they may die any day, they may
: never see the sun, what is the point of going through
: the difficult cut-off process when there isn't a
: society to conform to, they are already
: psychologically messed up, and there are very few
: treats to make the kid happy. No, it wasn't for
: pregnancy control. Remember the mother was taking
: pills that were marked for one everyday. Apparently
: their tormentor started to give her birth control
: pills after two pregnancies.
Good point about the pills. I didn't remember that. I think your analysis is correct.
: - I didn't understand why the guy was coming in right
: after 9 pm. It must have been something the author
: thought that would help her plot. Because there didn't
: seem to be any reason for such punctuality. If he had
: a family in the house and trying to hide his shed
: visits from them, then maybe he would come in in the
: middle of the night. Or some days during the day when
: the family was out. But 9pm seemed pretty random to
: me. It certainly worked for the plot though.
Good question. The whole setup is described as being well-hidden, so it wasn't necessarily so people wouldn't see him come and go. And it wasn't "after dark" but always 9:00 PM. Maybe that's when his favorite TV shows were over. I don't think he had a family.
: - The other thing I found implausible was that the
: shed had barbed wire all around, even under ground.
: That kind of planned building seemed far-fetched to
: me. These guys usually act on an impulse, then figure
: out the bunker or the shed...
Maybe it was far-fetched, or maybe it's the guys who don't take precautions like that who eventually get caught and we learn about them. How many Sharons and Jacks have lived and died in bunkers like this that we've never known of?
On the other hand, how could he have been so clever in designing his shed, then fall so easily for the old "kid playing possum in the rug" trick. And having gone to so much trouble and expense to make the shed escape-proof, why didn't he include a security camera so he could tell what she was up to when he wasn't there? Or even a peep-hole so he would know she wasn't standing behind the door when he opened it ready to whack him on the head with the toilet cover? (And now I'm starting to wonder if there has been any backlash against Room for giving tips to would-be kidnappers.)
: - I did think the screaming on top of the table and
: turning the light on and off a million times at night
: were smart on the part of the mother, she was
: certainly trying whatever she could. I am sure a
: neighbour would have seen the nightly on-off-on-off
: light message.
Yes, and it makes you wonder about all the lights and noises we hear in the background of our lives and never take seriously. We hear screams and assume it's girls playing or someone's television.
Years ago I rescued a construction worker trapped in a stalled elevator because, in a skyscraper undergoing renovation with all kinds of racket going on, I was the only one to recognize that some of the hammering was "SOS" in Morse code. Even when someone is signalling intelligently, chances are no one will recognize it.
: - Life is not going to be easy for Jack, as you all
: have pointed out. He hasn't yet figured out that he
: has a psychopath for father.
Yes, and that begs the question about what Sharon told him. I don't recall there being anything said about it. He's bound to have run across the idea of "father" from books and TV and asked her who his father was.
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