Room Summary and Analysis of Part IV and Part V


Part IV: After

Making their way into the police station, Jack is blinded by flashbulbs from what he learns is the paparazzi. He learns they are soon going to the Cumberland Clinic, a psychiatric institution, to get private, special care. First Ma has to tell her story to the police, which she does.

They then drive to the Clinic and Jack continues to learn new things, like how cars stay on their side of the street.

At the Clinic, they meet Dr. Clay, who gives them both masks because they were not exposed to germs inside Room. Jack is intrigued by a massive aquarium. Ma has to go to evidence collection now, and Jack gets to watch TV while he waits. He is shocked to see himself and Ma broadcast on it, and he calls out to her. Dr. Clay comes out and chides Pilar, the receptionist, for letting Jack see this.

Back with Ma, the physician Dr. Kendrick tells Ma she will need to have her wrist taken care of but dentistry is the top concern right now. The doctors tell her that Jack needs a thorough checkup right now too, but Ma becomes agitated, saying that he has never been out of her sight and nothing happened to him. She tears up, so Dr. Clay suggests just getting Jack's height and weight and bandaging the cuts right now. Jack is thrilled to get a Dora Band-Aid. Jack also gets shots and two lollipops, which surprises him.

Ma and Jack are now in Bed, but they aren’t in Room; they are Outside but in a new room. Jack accidentally wets the bed. He tries to understand his new surroundings and looks out the window. It seems like TV.

Ma decides to take a shower, but Jack cries that she cannot do it without him. She lets him come in with her; when they are done, they wrap themselves up in big fluffy towels.

Ma suggests going outside to the garden later because she thought she saw a cat. Jack wonders in a whispered tone if Old Nick will find them; Ma assures him that Old Nick does not know where they are and they are safe.

They walk down the hallway and see that there are other rooms; theirs is #7. Ma is starving, so they decide to go to the cafeteria. An employee who introduces herself as Noreen rushes up to them to give them fresh masks and help them find the cafeteria.

There are new people in this room; they have shorter hair and move faster than Jack is used to seeing. One tells Jack that he is a hero; Jack does not respond. Dr. Clay says hello to them and they begin eating. Jack wonders where the other kids are; Ma says there are none here, but there are millions in the outside world.

Jack does not like that people are looking at him a lot. When Ma says she’d like to go into the garden, Dr. Clay suggests that there is no rush. They go back to the room and lie down.

Dr. Clay comes in often now, and Jack does not think he is scary anymore. He and Ma talk about a lot of serious things like “re-experiencing.”

Jack has to get more shots, and Dr. Clay brings him special sunglasses because his eyes are not used to the brightness of the outside. Jack does not like the shots at all, but he is brave.

He can hear Dr. Clay talking to Ma about him, saying he is sort of like a newborn except for his advanced literacy and numeracy, and he might have issues in the areas of social adjustment, sensory modulation, and spatial perception. Ma puts her head in her hands and whispers that she thought he was okay. Dr. Clay continues by saying that what is important now is for Jack to feel safe and to slowly enlarge his circle of trust.

A few minutes later, Noreen knocks, bringing a policeman holding documents with her. They talk to Ma, and Ma shows Jack that Old Nick has been caught. When Dr. Clay wonders if this is upsetting her, she rolls her eyes that a picture isn’t going to upset her after what she endured for seven years.

Dr. Clay questions Jack about Old Nick, asking if he ever hurt him. Jack says that he was only hurt during the Great Escape. Dr. Clay smiles, which confuses Jack.

Later, Noreen brings in new clothes for both of them, and Jack is surprised to see Ma in slim clothing.

A few minutes later, Jack sees a new person run in; she and Ma cry, scream, and hug. He is confused at first, but Ma tells him that this is her mother. Grandma comes close and Jack hides, but she beams that he is so brave and she is so happy he brought her baby back.

Grandma and Ma talk for a long time. Ma learns that Grandma and Grandpa divorced because Grandma never stopped hoping for Ma to come home but Grandpa got mad; Grandma is now married to Leo and Grandpa moved to Australia. Grandma talks about how it was torture always thinking that she saw Ma on the street. She couldn’t sleep without pills, and it was hard on Paul, too. She tells Ma that Paul is married to a woman named Deana and they have a daughter named Bronwyn.

Ma is not ready to meet Leo, and Grandma understands. She readies herself to leave and blows Jack a kiss. She is happy when he pretends to catch it.

Time passes. Jack has to come to terms with the fact that they are never going back to Room. He likes looking Outside and learns that, someday, they will be leaving Cumberland. Ma writes in a notebook all the time. Jack never knows when sounds will make him jump. He also has to learn to wear shoes and socks, which feel awkward to him. They see Dr. Clay often, and he asks Jack a lot of questions about Room. Ma tells Dr. Clay all the time that she is fine, but Jack doesn't think that she sounds fine.

Jack eventually gets a cold for the first time and hates it, but it has to run its course. Ma finally convinces Jack to try to go outside. He dislikes the revolving door and the strong breeze that rings in his ears. They have to go back in right away because Jack is so upset.

Grandma brings new books and talks to Ma. Their new lawyer, Morris, visits. He suggests to Ma that she needs to consider the future—like suing, for example. Fees are being waves for now and there is a fund set up for their fans to donate money to, but Ma has to consider the expenses in the future. He tells her there have been a ton of donations and letters pouring in. Ma tells Jack he can choose some of the toys and they will donate the rest to a children’s hospital.

Ma marvels at all the letters. Morris suggests she also consider telling her story, and Ma glares that what he really means is that she should tell it before someone else does. Jack hears Morris also telling Ma about Old Nick, who will have a trial soon. He might get twenty-five to life: he is charged with kidnapping for sexual purposes, false imprisonment, rape, criminal battery, and more. Ma asks about a first baby, implying there was a child before Jack who did not make it, and Jack does not know what Ma means by saying “she.”

Later, Jack asks Ma about this. She explains that, before he came, there was another baby, but that baby could not breathe because there was a cord around her neck. Old Nick was there and didn’t know anything about childbirth; Ma was screaming at him, but he couldn’t do anything. The baby was buried; when Jack arrived, Ma did not let Old Nick in with her.

Noreen brings Jack stretchy shoes, like socks, and a watch. Ma decides they are done with the masks. They continue to see Dr. Clay and he asks Jack to draw Room. Jack hears Dr. Clay and Ma talking about separation anxiety and self-blame and how, thankfully, Jack is “plastic” because he got out when he was young.

Jack realizes Ma says “I don’t know” a lot now. They go outside to try again, and Noreen helps him by saying to imagine he is watching them on TV. He sees cars, feels the grass, and finds a rock and an ant. He is excited to see a helicopter, but he learns that it was full of paparazzi trying to get photos of him and Ma. Later, Jack gets to meet Uncle Paul and Deana. He is excited to meet Bronwyn soon, but she is at school. Ma learns that Grandpa has gotten on a flight from Australia.

Grandma and Leo also visit, and Ma lets Leo come in. Grandma suggests Jack call him “Steppa.” Jack thinks he smells funny and has bushy eyebrows. Grandma learns Ma is still breastfeeding and shocked, but Ma angrily tells her she had no reason to stop and Grandma does not understand.

After they leave, Ma falls asleep. Jack finds a newspaper, and there is an article about him and Ma in it.

Jack and Ma count their new friends in the world, getting up to nineteen. They visit with Dr. Clay, and Ma tells him about a bad dream Jack had. Dr. Clay suggests his brain is “spring cleaning,” getting rid of all the stored-up scary thoughts. Jack doesn’t tell him that Room was safe and it is Outside that is scary.

Ma uses a computer and looks for some of her old friends. She shows Jack some videos online. She also listens to music on a little machine, which she says Paul bought her. She suggests they listen to The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love,” which Jack thinks is weird because people need food and stuff. Ma begins talking about how there was a study where scientists took baby monkeys away from their mothers and raised them in cages and they did not grow up properly. Jack is distressed at this story and won’t stop asking questions. Ma feels bad and apologizes for telling the story and for being strange. She admits, “I know you need me to be your ma but I’m having to remember how to be me at the same time and it’s…” (221.)

The next day, they go to the dentist so Ma can have work done on her teeth. Her father also arrives; he and Ma cry and embrace, but Grandpa does not want to interact with Jack because all he can think about is Old Nick. Ma grimly tells him he has one chance, so Grandpa reluctantly tries to talk to Jack.

Ma tells Jack that today she is going to be talking to TV people and he will be taking a nap; tomorrow, they will go with Paul, Deana, and Bronwyn to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs. Jack wonders why he can’t go on TV too; Ma says she does not want them to see him. Jack begins freaking out; when Dr. Clay comes in, Ma tells him, exasperated, that this won’t work. They agree to let Jack watch the interview if he is perfectly quiet.

In the interview room, Morris, the lawyer, is there, telling everyone that the boy is not to be shown on camera in any way. Jack prepares to watch, and Ma sits down with a puffy-haired woman.

The interview proves to be difficult, as the woman asks Ma things that exasperate her. Early on, she uses the term “Stockholm Syndrome,” and Ma replies flatly that she hated Old Nick. Then, the woman mentions the stillbirth, which was not supposed to be brought up. Ma begins to shake. After a few more questions, the woman mentions Ma breastfeeding, and Ma replies caustically that this can’t be the one shocking detail in this whole story.

Moving on, the woman mentions how hard it must have been for them to be alone, and Ma corrects her that they weren’t alone because they had each other. It annoys Ma when the woman suggests that she “deceived” Jack by not telling him about the world outside, and when she suggests that Old Nick may have had fond feelings for the boy. Ma also grimly tries to downplay being termed a saint or a hero, saying that all she did was survive. Slavery and solitary confinement are still issues today, and her story is not unique.

As the interview continues, Ma comments that she hates that Jack is being called a freak, an idiot savant, or feral. Later, the woman wonders if some part of Ma misses being behind a locked door, and Ma snaps back at her.

The woman asks Ma questions about whether or not she thought about relieving Jack’s suffering or having him given up for adoption because he would be missing so much, and Ma is incredulous. Ma begins to cry and Jack rushes toward her. He can hear Morris saying that he is not to be shown.

The next morning, Ma is Gone. Jack does not know what to do now that they are outside of Room. He finds Noreen, and she and Dr. Clay decide that Jack can go with Paul, Deana, and Bronwyn to the museum like they’d planned. Jack is nervous but excited.

Jack sits next to Bronwyn, who chatters happily at him. Jack tells himself he is being brave and this isn’t as bad as pretending to be dead in Rug.

They have to stop at the mall to get a present for a birthday party Bronwyn is going to later. Jack and Bronwyn get to sit in a red wagon. He marvels at how inside can seem as big as outside.

Jack is utterly amazed to see a Dora backpack in a store, and Deana agrees to buy it for him when she sees his thrilled face. She pays for it and gives it to him.

Deana and Paul look for a gift. She chides Pal for saying Jack’s name because someone might recognize him. They go to the food court, get popcorn, and then go to the bathroom. Deana lets him come in with her and Bronwyn. Jack is surprised to see Bronwyn’s genitals and reaches to touch them, but Deana slaps his hand away. She apologizes but tells him that it is not okay to touch other people’s private parts.

Outside, Paul and Deana argue about a gift. Jack sees a Dylan the Digger book and puts it in his bag because he thinks it is his. Outside the store, a man comes up to them; Paul has to open Jack’s bag, say sorry, and give the book back. Paul says he will buy it, but Jack won’t let go, and Paul is frustrated. Deana cannot find Bronwyn, who is hiding behind a window, and she starts screaming.

Jack returns to Cumberland; they did not go to the museum. He goes to Ma and sees that she is more Gone than she ever has been before. She has vomit on her pillow, so he gets Noreen. Then, he sees an empty bottle of pills and wonders where all the pills are. Noreen picks up the phone and starts yelling “code blue” and trying to get Ma to wake up.

Part V: Living

Jack is sent to stay with Grandma and Steppa; they do not know how Ma is yet. Jack does not want to stay in a room alone, so they put his blow-up bed in theirs. Grandma sings Jack a lullaby to try to get him to sleep, and he feels extremely sad. Why did Ma not wait for him before she went to Heaven? He sucks on Tooth and wishes he could have some.

Jack has a bad dream in the night again, but in the morning, Grandma tells him Ma is stable. She says to say goodbye to Grandpa, who is going back to Australia. Jack confesses to her that Grandpa didn’t want him born, and Grandma scowls that he shouldn’t mind that a-hole.

Jack sits with Grandpa and eats breakfast. After some TV, Grandma grumbles that Dr. Clay said Jack has to work on his developmental needs, so they are going to the park. Jack is hesitant, but they walk over. He sees interesting things, such as a dog poop and kids he doesn’t know playing. Jack watches them but is too self-conscious to join in.

It is getting cold, so they walk home. Grandma shows Jack a globe and points out a lot of places. Jack is tired and has a sunburn, so he gets to watch TV after lunch.

In the night, Jack dreams of Tooth coming for him, and he is scared. The next morning, he realizes that this house is hard to figure out because there are so many rooms, doors, and rules. He thinks, “Outsiders are not like us, they’ve got a million of things and different kinds of each thing” (264).

He also learns Steppa likes his own space, which Steppa tells him is the case for most people. Grandma tells Jack to play, so he looks at the six toys he chose from the donations. He also finds an old coin in the house and shows Grandma, who gives him other coins to look at.

The phone rings, and Grandma answers. Amid happy tears, she says Ma has turned a corner and will be okay.

Later, Jack wonders if he can ever have things from Room, and Grandma suggests that, once the police are done, he can. It is a nice day, so Grandma puts sunscreen on Jack and they go into the backyard. Jack marvels at how many things are out there. He asks about the hammock Ma mentioned once to him in Room, and Grandma grunts that she will go get it.

When Grandma is gone, Jack looks around and wonders at how the world is always changing in brightness, hotness, and “soundness.” He also gets stung by a bee, which hurts until Grandma gives him ointment. The hammock is fun, but he is even happier when he gets to talk to Ma on the phone for a few minutes. She tells him she was tired and made a mistake, but, even though she is still tired, she is okay now. Ma asks Jack what is new, and he replies “everything,” which makes her laugh.

Jack watches a flame dance around under a pasta pot and continues to play with matches. Steppa comes in, sees him, quickly stops him, and asks him if Ma ever warned him not to play with fire. Jack shrugs that there was no fire in Room. Steppa does not tell Grandma; instead, he cheerfully lets Jack help him in the kitchen and teaches him about all the new devices to make food. Jack gets to try potato chips for the first time.

Dr. Clay comes to visit Jack; they sit on the deck and talk about how he is doing. Dr. Clay says that Ma is doing her best to get better and will be home soon; Jack thought that people were either sick or well, and he didn’t know it took work to be well.

The next morning, Grandma takes Jack to the playground early so there will not be other kids. He is intrigued and confused by the sandbox and plays in the tunnels. He is too afraid to do the slide, but he likes when Grandma pushes him on the swing. A girl sits down on the next swing. She says her name is Cora and asks why “she”—Jack—is in the baby swing. Jack does not want to talk, and wants to leave; Grandma has to climb up in the playground equipment to get his shoes because he is too afraid to climb if Cora is watching. Grandma is irritated, but when they get home, she tells Steppa that they are making progress, little by little.

Later, Jack sits on the stairs and listens to the ladies from Grandma’s book club, which she forgot to cancel, talk about how Jack looks like an angel from the photos and Grandma is heroic for helping like she is. Grandma is surprised to hear that the photos of Jack when he ran up to Ma at the interview have been leaked.

Steppa shows Jack how to make things out of LEGOs. Grandma wants Jack to take a bath, but he won’t do it without her in it, so she puts her bathing suit on to sit with him. She does not have any bath toys and does not know any bath games, but Jack makes up some of his own.

In the morning, Jack goes into the kitchen, takes scissors out, and cuts off his ponytail. Grandma comes in and stares, then says they ought to keep a small piece of hair because it is his first haircut. She makes him a braided bracelet of some hair. He looks in the mirror and is pleased to see that his muscles are still there, as he always worried that cutting his hair would result in something similar to Samson losing his “strong.”

Jack has been in the world for two weeks now, but it feels like a million years and Ma isn’t coming yet. Grandma says they have to get out of the house and assures Jack that no one will recognize him now because of his haircut. They cross a lot of roads, buy stamps at the post office where Jack mails Ma a picture, visit Paul in his office, get Grandma a new Social Security card, and go to a coffee shop. They get to feed the ducks at the park with Deana and Bronwyn, and Grandma buys Jack new shoes that are light, full of holes, and without Velcro. He loves them.

Outside the store, there is a homeless woman, and Grandma gives Jack two quarters to give her. Jack gives her one but keeps one because it says "Nebraska" and is for his collection. Grandma chides him gently because the woman lives on the street, and when Jack feels bad, she tells him that that is his conscience talking to him.

They go to a car wash, which Jack finds hilarious. He also notes that people in the world seem stressed, and he does not know how they do jobs and living at the same time. He sees that adults don’t seem to like kids, even their parents.

At the library, Jack is stunned by the millions of books. Grandma reads him some. He meets a boy named Walker and hugs him; Grandma apologizes to Walker’s dad and says that they are working on boundaries. Jack does not understand what he did wrong.

A delivery comes for Jack. He is elated to see it is his and Ma’s things from Room, and he is most excited about Rug. Grandma is disgusted and wants to get rid of it, but he immediately wraps it around himself. He looks at his books, the melted spoon, the jeep, and the remote.

One day, Grandma and Steppa take Jack to the beach. It is windy, sandy, and cold, and Jack isn’t sure he likes it. He finds a few shells that he is able to keep.

Ma calls and Jack tells her about the beach. He asks when she is coming for him and she says that she is coming soon, but they are fiddling with her dosage to find what she needs. Jack knows that she needs him.

Jack hears people on TV talking about him and saying words he does not understand, like “sensory overload of modernity” and “child sacrifice…cemented into the foundations to placate the spirits” (293). Grandma comes in, scowls, and turns it off.

Grandma and Jack go shopping; Jack is looking forward to getting a soccer ball. He walks away from Grandma and is sitting on a bed when a saleswoman says he cannot do that and asks where his Ma is. When he talks about her being in a clinic and them being locked up, the woman recognizes him and calls another woman over. They want him to sign his name for autographs; he is going to do so, but Grandma comes up and angrily yells at the women about “lost child procedure.” She is mad at Jack for running off.

At home, Jack becomes furious that Grandma did not buy him the soccer ball she promised. He packs up his Dora bag and says that he is going to the Clinic; Grandma can’t stop him, he says, because she is a stranger. Grandma is frustrated and tells Leo to help. Leo picks up Jack, who has wrapped himself in Rug, and carries him kicking and screaming to his bed. He cries and cries until he finally stops. Leo patiently waits with him and asks if he wants pie and to watch the game. Jack agrees.

Grandma and Jack work in the yard and sit in the hammock. They go inside so Jack can start painting. He looks out the window and is shocked to see Ma. She comes in and they embrace.

Ma says that they will stay for supper and then go. They look at pictures in old photo albums. Grandma wonders if it is sad that she has no pictures or mementos of Jack’s growing up, but Ma says seriously that she remembers every day of it.

Ma explains to Jack that they are done with the Clinic and will live in a new facility in their own apartment. Grandma is skeptical, but Ma says it was her idea and they are ready.

Grandma drives them to the new facility and they visit 6B, their new place. Ma sincerely thanks Grandma for everything, and Grandma tells Ma that she never forgot a day of her, either.

That evening, Jack moves up to Ma to have some, but she tells him gently that that is done now.

Ma and Jack get used to their new space. Jack tentatively agrees to his own room after Ma suggests they try it out. He wants to put cork on the walls like Room, but Ma refuses and says that this is a fresh start. He wonders why she does not want to think about Room at all. When Ma refuses to lay Rug out, he goes into his room and cries angrily.

Dr. Clay and Noreen visit and bring Ma a computer. They discuss whether Jack should have a different surname or something so when he starts school he won’t attract as much attention. Jack does not want to go to school' Ma says he will only when he is ready.

Jack loses Tooth (most likely swallowing it) and does not know where it is, but Ma tells him it is okay and it is the end of the story. He is not pleased.

Ma and Jack spend the day together. He asks about Sundaytreat but immediately realizes his mistake. Ma tells him frankly that he will never see Old Nick again; she will have to see him once more at the trial, but Jack never ever does.

They walk around their neighborhood and have ice cream, which Jack thinks is the best thing ever.

There are new things every day. Grandma gives Jack a watercolor set, and Paul brings him the soccer ball he wanted. They take it to the park while Ma visits with friends she knew before she was taken. Ma and Jack decide they will try everything once before deciding they don’t like it. They go to a museum; Steppa brings Jack a bike; they take a bus to the park for a concert; they try two churches; they go to a play. They write down all the new things they do and the things they want to do when they are braver. Jack looks forward to when they might get a dog named Lucky; Ma says maybe when he is six.

Jack realizes that he does not know much and is confused a lot, but when he was in Room he thought he knew everything. He asks Ma if she sometimes wishes if they never escaped, and she says no.

Jack suggests going to Room. Ma wonders if he really wants to and why he wants to, and he replies that he does not know. Ma does not think she can, but Jack insists that he is choosing for them and she has to.

Later that morning, Officer Oh visits them. She greets them warmly, and they get into her car. It is raining a little bit, but Ma tells Jack to hurry along as they are only going back to Room this one time.

They get close to the house, which has a yellow crime scene ribbon on it. They go into the house and out to the backyard, which is surrounded by a fifteen-foot hedge. Ma is visibly upset and wonders if she can do this. Jack asks where the baby is, and Officer Oh says that they dug her up; Ma did not want her here anymore.

There is a gray shed that Jack is surprised to hear is Room. He does not want Officer Oh to come inside with them. Ma bends over and vomits. Officer Oh asks if they should go back, and Ma weakly says no.

They step through the door, and Jack finds that everything is all wrong. It is smaller and emptier than before, and it smells weird. Things are not exactly as they were, and their voices sound strange. Jack looks around and finally tells Ma that it is not Room anymore. She tells him she needs to go now. He says goodbye to all the things in it and kisses Ma’s teary face.

Jack says goodbye to Room itself, and they walk out.


In the last two sections of the novel, Ma and Jack have to learn to adapt to the outside world, which is, as expected, no easy task. We will look at each of their experiences in detail, though we obviously must take into consideration that we understand what Ma is going through only via Jack’s eyes.

Ma is unequivocally elated to escape from Room, but her transition from freedom to captivity to freedom again is traumatic. She tells Jack that she is learning how to be herself again while still trying to be the best mother to him, a boy who has never been outside. She revels in taking a shower for the first time, wearing new clothes and makeup, and trying to procure space of her own (a nice nod to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of Her Own). She reconnects with her mother, father, and brother, but, of course, after seven years, much has changed: her father and mother have divorced, her father lives in Australia, and her mother is remarried.

Emerging into freedom also brings with it intense public scrutiny, and the reader likely comes away from reading about Ma’s interview with the “puffy-haired” TV woman convinced of their own prurient interest in such cases. The woman’s questions are ignorant and offensive, causing more harm than good. Ma eventually decides that she cannot handle things anymore and attempts suicide. Thankfully, she “fails” at that, and is able to finally achieve the help and motivation she needs to endure. Donoghue makes it clear that Ma will be dealing with this for the rest of her life, however: she vomits when she revisits Room and won’t let the door be closed, and she does not yet want to take Jack to the zoo because she does not like the cages.

As for Jack, his struggles are just as serious as Ma's but very, very different in nature. Room was the only home he ever knew and Ma the only family he ever knew. Once outside, his difficulties include sensory modulation, spatial perception, and social adjustment, as the doctor observes. Lights are bright, the wind seems too strong, people talking to him is disconcerting, and learning to be away from Ma is overwhelming. He suffers from numerous bad dreams as he works through his unconscious fears, and he seems to continually encounter things in the world that befuddle or upset him. Margarete Rubik notes that “his world knowledge is completely false” because “as long as he stayed in Room, his schemas were capable of explaining what he perceived around him, but outside there is a disequilibrium for him, an unpleasant and frightening cognitive imbalance.” This reality is also difficult for others dealing with Jack. Grandma, for example, is a bit brusque and easily frustrated with Jack because he has “extreme cognitive discrepancies”: he knows more math than she does, but he can’t go down a slide, she complains to Steppa. Jack also proves frustrating for Paul and Deana on their first outing alone with him: he accidentally steals a book, he touches Bronwyn inappropriately, and Bronwyn runs off because her parents are so focused on the disaster that is Jack in the mall. Jack is expanding his circle of trust, but he also has to learn “to respect people’s wish for privacy and become aware of social taboos and rules of behavior.” His Grandma can’t bathe with him, he can’t curiously touch other people’s genitals, he can’t breastfeed anymore, and he can’t hug random kids and declare that he loves them.

Jack has to learn to formulate an identity outside of Room and outside of his mother, but that is far from simple. As Rubik explains, “Jack has not broken the primal bond to his mother and, in a way, still regards himself as a part of her…he develops severe separation anxiety once they are outside of their prison.” He does not want his own room, and he does not know why Ma wants to shower alone or read the paper instead of being with him. He is “painfully forced to emancipate himself” when Ma recovers from her suicide attempt.

Overall, Jack has to let go of the schemas and rules that once governed life in Room in order to develop his own identity. The final scene in which he confronts Room and his old life and then bids it farewell on account of comprehending that it is no longer what it once was is a powerful symbol of Jack’s slow but steady evolution.