The influence of traumatic experience on a child’s identity development in Emma Donoghue’s Room



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Emma Donoghue’s Room deals with the problems associated with children’s identity and development, as well as considerable life changes after living in captivity. The aim of this research is to find out how Jack, who has lived his entire life in a small shed, can cope in a new society larger than the one he has ever known and how his behaviour changes due to potential trauma. Jack has always imagined life outside of Room but only seen it through television and even then he never believed it had been real. The thesis is divided into four parts: an introduction, a literature review, an empirical study and a conclusion. The introduction of the study consists of a comparison of the novel and the contemporary works alike, as well as the peculiarities of Jack, the main protagonist of Room. The aim of the literature review is to give an overview of the studies written prior to this, with an emphasis on the trauma theoretical approach to the novel and contemporary literature. Additionally, a short overview of the subcategories of identity will be given, which will be discussed in detail in this thesis. The empirical part of the thesis is divided into two subchapters. The first subchapter of the empirical study will present the phases of development in the narrator of the story while living in captivity and preparations for an escape. The second subchapter will mainly focus on life after the escape and hardships that can occur in the newly found social life. Whether or not the protagonist will have immediate trauma after escape will be discussed, as well as whether there is potential for it to develop in later life. The conclusion will summarize the main findings of the study.