Room Literary Elements



Setting and Context

Early 21st century; in the first 3 parts, the setting is Room, and in the second 2 parts, it is the world outside

Narrator and Point of View

The narrator of this story is a first-person, a five-year-old boy, Jack. He narrates his life in the Room together with his Ma, and, after their escape, he narrates his life in the world and shows his emotions and feelings upon exposure to a new environment.

Tone and Mood

Tone: whimsical, confused, capricious, ignorant, wondering, frightened

Mood: anticipatory, anxious, claustrophobic, overwhelming, sympathetic

Protagonist and Antagonist

The main protagonists are Jack and his Ma. The main antagonist is Old Nick.

Major Conflict

Will Ma and Jack ever escape from Room? Then, how will they adjust to life outside of it?


The climax takes place when Jack escapes from the Room and rescues his Ma from Old Nick.


Jack thinks about how he and Ma have had three fights in three days, which foreshadows their increasingly fractious time in Room.


"The tooth fairy doesn't know about Room" (70) is a bittersweet understatement because NO ONE knows about Room.


1. Allusions to many famous singers such as Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Rihanna, Eminem, and Hannah Montana.
2. Jack watches TV shows like "Dora the Explorer" and "Spongebob," which help connect him to "real" kids.
3. Jack and the Beanstalk, a famous fairy tale.
4. Stories and figures from the Bible, such as Jesus and St. Paul.
5. "The Great Escape," a 1963 film about an escape from a German POW camp during WWII.
6. "The Count of Monte Cristo," Alexandre Dumas's famous novel.
7. Jack "[plays] Icarus with his wings melting" (104), an allusion to the Greek character who flew too close to the Sun and fell into the sea when his wings melted.


The imagery in Room is of threadbare furniture and items, but as we see them through Jack's eyes, they attain warmth and a degree of comfort. Imagery outside Room is of familiar things and people and places—at least to the reader—that are viewed with Jack's fresh eyes. These images help suggest Jack's discombobulation, inviting the reader to confront their own assumptions about the world.


1. As a child, Jack finds some things paradoxical: "Ma knows everything except the things she doesn't remember right" (9).
2. Jack's relationship with Room is somewhat paradoxical: even though he is a prisoner there, it is also his home and the only world he has known, and so he therefore feels a certain sense of attachment to it.


Donoghue titles one of the novel's sections "Dying," which is then paralleled by the last section of "Living."

Metonymy and Synecdoche



1. Jack personifies nearly everything in Room (including Room itself!): Bed, Wardrobe, Jeep, TV, etc.
2. Jack personifies Bad Tooth in the same fashion, but it matters even more since it was a part of Ma.