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Popularity 1Viewed 633 times 2019-10-11 09:10 |System category:Life

  Typically, a room is a place where you sit on a brocade or tufted leather  sofa while holding a book in your hand, , veg out in front of the TV, or simply rest up with the heavy velvet drapes drawn. For people keen on pondering over their future career moves and life goals, , their rooms are sedate  places  suffused with stillness as they sit there seeking mediation;   just like gurus from India,  a world that's not hemmed in by the hustle and bustle of modern life. Or it's simply a  room of one's own, in the words of Virginia Woolf; other novelists liken it to a bolthole.

  But in the novel written by Emma Donoghue or the movie based on her novel, the two protagonists  Joy  and her  five-year-old son Jack only have a poky and  poorly ventilated room that bears a  resemblance to a jail or  damp basement where people use it to store goods. To cap it all, the only window in the room is a skylight and the only"interloper" that Jack can find in the room is a rat looking for food .  And Jack, who is a boy with long hair, has never had a chance to walk out of  the room to  play outside; instead, he spends most of his time watching TV or chatting up his mom, who is a nervous Nellie  . Is Jack an autist? The answer is negative.

  Actually, Jack doesn't know   that another restless world exists outside, where birds chirp , cats scamper around , cicadas stridulate,  pedestrians walk back and forth, and white clouds move slowly in the  sun-lit sky.  For Jack that's uncharted territory since he has been locked up in this  room with her mom  ever since he was born.  Who would do such cruel things to a kid ? Answer: a middle-aged guy who has a thing for lasses like Joy, who ends up becoming the victim of his depraved behavior after being abducted and raped afterwards. The rapist, whose name is Nick, is a laid-off psycho who considers Joy as  his plaything; he goes to the locked room regularly  to shag Joy as Jack hides in the closet listening to the sounds of the screeching bed and his mom's agonizing moans.

  Then one day his mom, who is fed up with slavery and worried about her son's future after learning that Nick may not be able to provide ample supplies to her and her son since he has trouble landing a job, decides to tell her son that the world Jack sees on TV is real, not fictional or  a fictitious  scene like Jack finds in the book titled Alice in Wonderland. " It's real, Jack. I'm not kidding," says Joy,  staring at her shell-shocked son who simply gets his dander up after hearing this." You are lying. It doesn't exist," Jack  bellows out ,  puckering up his little face.  " I'm not making it up, Jack.  This room is just one small part of our big world," says Joy, adding that the outside world is a groovy place where Jack  will be able  to enjoy the pleasures of freedom once he walks out the room.

  To that end, Joy asks her son to pretend  he's sick, chivvying Nick to take her son to the hospital. But the neurotic Nick rebuffs this request, and tells Joy he will bring some  drugs the next time he visits them. Exasperated, Joy decides to go out on a limb by letting her son play dead, with a view to snookering Nick into believing that he has no choice but to get rid of Jack's  corpse. The tactic works at last; Jack jumps from the truck which Nick is driving,  cries out for  help and comes across a female plod who is patrolling the streets with another male bobby. Better yet, the hardnosed female cop locates the position of the room with the help of Jack and emancipates Jack's mom as well.

  You might think that would be the  happy ending for Jack and Joy.  No so fast. It turns out to be Joy  simply walks into another world dripping with despair and sorrow just like the room where they were locked up before being rescued, having found that she won't be able to go back to the old happy days since her parents get divorced and all her good memories of her youthhood can only be found in a family album. Not knowing what to do, Joy elects to commit suicide in the bathroom of her childhood home. Luckily, her efforts to kill herself  misfire after  Jack finds his mom lying on the blood-drenched floor in the bathroom. Holding her body tightly and crying out for help, Jack begs his mom to be strong.  " Don't leave me , Mom. Please, " Jack pleads, crying.    Joy is taken to the hospital and comes to  thereafter.  

  Deciding to help her mom  shake off the negativity and forget all the bad memorize that are still etched in her mind, Jack asks his mom to visit that room with him again. 

 " We have to say goodbye to the room, mom," Jack pipes up,  looking around the room he and his mom  once were mewed up,  starting to say  goodbye to each item in the room.

  " Bye, sink. Bye, table. Bye, wardrobe. By, skylight. Mom, say bye to  the room, "  says Jack

  "Bye room," Joy says sotto voce, closing the door behind her.

  My takeaway from this: at the heart of the issue is not whether you live in a big house or not, what matters is whether you are in your element  or feel comfortable or not. Meaning we have to live like free men and women without the shackles of slavery and the fetters of mind-control. We have to stare down desperadoes and no-account lubbers like Nick in this movie, telling them not to get in our hair. We are free souls, not submissive serfs.  They  just can't box us in a room like what Nick does to Joy and Jack, ahem,  because our minds and ambitions transcend the bounds of space and time. 

  One day we will walk out of the room and settle down in a place where people prize human liberty and morality if we opt to find a better place to live.  That's Virginia Woolf's choice to boot, which is a room of one's own.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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