Developing a voice: example of character voice


This piece shows a good example of the power of a character’s voice in the very first paragraph. It then goes on to précis the story in a manner that praises the author and her work. A book well worth reading.

Below is an example of the character’s voice:

“Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra. Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero.” – 5-year-old Jack, narrator of Room by Emma Donoghue

“Room”, a 2010 novel written by the Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue, tells a story of Jack who lives inside a small enclosed space with his Ma. Jack was born in the “Room” and lives all his life there.

The story begins on Jack’s fifth birthday. He wonders at how he turns five as he wakes up in the morning. He further goes on to narrate his life without seeing sunlight, never smelled fresh air, or not having interacted with anyone else other than his Ma and – from time to time – Old Nick, who locks them up in the garden shed all the time. The story further implies that Old Nick is responsible for abducting and continually raping Ma.

When Jack turns five years old, his Ma starts telling him about the existence of an outside world where she hopes to escape to, sooner or later. But Jack does not believe her, thinking it is only a tale. He is apparently content with the life he has. He tells that his daily routine includes running in circles around the shed, his “Phys Ed”; screaming for help during the night as he stands under the skylight, and; keeping busy with cooking lessons. That’s why the idea of escaping to the outside world shatters Jack’s little space into pieces.

However, as Jack grows older, his curiosity increases, wondering whether there is, indeed, a world outside their Room even as his Ma yearns to escape the imprisonment that they have been restricted to.

The “Room” imparts a horrifying story about some social evils that continue to plague this modern age and the struggle of its victims. Even if it deals with complex issues and tackles about the concept of love in sinister ways, “Room” is not a horror book. Readers can pick up some important lessons about suffering and life’s trials from this book.


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