One of the main themes that is very present throughout the first half of the book is innocence, primarily shown by the main protagonist in the book, Jack. As a child, Jack often takes a naive approach to some of the many situations he is placed in during this half of the book. “She puts her finger on my mouth to hush me. ‘I came down and I was a kid like you, I lived in with my mother and father.’ I shake my head. ‘You’re the mother” (106). Jack does not realize that his mother must have a mother of her own, because Jack’s world is what is in Room. “I’m not in Room. Am I still me” (177)? Without his knowledge of outside culture, or how the outside culture defines good and bad, Jack struggles with finding out what situations are negative and which are positive. This innocence of Jack can also be see as ignorance to the culture and basic knowledge of the outside world. “It’s garbage’ ‘No it’s not.” “It cost him maybe 50 cents. He’s laughing at you’ ‘I never had a lollipop.’ I pull it out of her hands” (98). Though Ma knows that Old Nick is trying to win Jack’s love with small treats, what Jack does not comprehend is that this treat is just a common thing in the outside world, and that Old Nick holding them in Room, away from the outside world, which is a terrible act against general knowledge of morality that should compel Jack to hate Old Nick.
In this half of the book, one of the themes defining the struggle that Jack and Ma go through is the separation between freedom and confinement. While Ma knows more of the outside world, she is aware that there is more to the world than what is in Room, as opposed to Jack, who does not know about the outside world, and only knows the bounds of Room. For Jack, his entire world is in Room, and he believes that the only things that exist are within his confines. “I’m not in Room. Am I still me” (177)? This gives Jack less ambition to escape Room, unlike his mother, who is much more willing to achieve freedom than Jack is; “Let’s do it tomorrow night instead.’ She leans over and hugs me tight. That means no. I’m hating her again a bit” (170). This quote is referring to when Jack was about to go through with the plan to leave Room, but then decides he doesn’t want to.
The first half of the book takes place almost entirely in room, with the exception of the very end of the first half where Jack escapes. Room is mainly a symbol for Jack and Ma’s captivity and exile from the outside world. To them, Room is essentially their whole world, as they cannot escape it and have spent every day living in the same environment. For Jack, Room is all he knows, considering he was born in Room and has lived there for all of his life – “They’ll find us somewhere to sleep in a little while.’ ‘No. Bed.’ ‘You mean in Room” (199)? – An opposing side is shown in his mother, as his mother knows of the culture and environment beyond Room. Because of this, she is much more eager to leave Room, in comparison to Jack, who has grown very attached to Room.
Although the outside world is not shown very much in this half of the book, it is talked about throughout this half. The way they describe the outside world in this half of the book depicts the outside as only a concept to them, as they are in captivity and cannot see and interact with the outside world like any other person would be able to, “Listen, what we see on TV is… It’s