The mars room ending explained
The Mars Room by Rachel KushnerIt’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.
Booker Review: ‘The Mars Room’, by Rachel Kushner
The Mars Room Summary & Study Guide
Chain Night happens once a week on Thursdays. Once a week the defining moment for sixty women takes place. For some of the sixty, that defining moment happens over and over. For them it is routine. For me it happened only once.
T hey are strip-searched, shackled, Tasered and put in cages; their babies are taken away at birth. We first meet Romy Hall on the bus to Stanville some time in the first decade of this century: she is 29, a single mother, and about to begin two consecutive life sentences for killing her stalker. Or a short life, necessarily. Being sick from Bacardi and splitting my chin open on a concrete barrier in Minipark. The same hierarchies and rules apply in the cells of Stanville as in the club dressing room: mind your own business and never tell anyone your real name. Kushner, always a diligent researcher, spent time in prisons and displays an impressive knowledge of life inside. Then there is Gordon Hauser, a disappointed academic hired to teach literature in the prison, with an interest in Thoreau and Ted Kaczynski whose diary extracts, rather confusingly, appear and a fatal weakness for romanticising his pupils.
When a particular quotation keeps appearing before your eyes, it must be speaking to the times. Bush administration not exactly a historical novel, then; the German term is Zeitroman : a fiction about the times the author has lived through. It examines conditions that are ongoing and — in terms of statistics to do with incarceration, including incarceration of women — worsening. We meet the man who stalked her, Kurt Kennedy, and get a glimpse of his addled from booze, and painkillers when he can get his hands on them , and malignantly obsessive mind. At Stanville a set of vividly drawn inmates gather around Romy in the form of a makeshift family; other inmates hover menacingly in their orbit.