One of Catherine Roerva's favorite types of punishment against her son was her form of the "gas-chamber". She would force David Pelzer into the bathroom and lock him in there with a bucket full of a mixture of a ammonia and clorox for hours at a time. Soon enough the oxygen in the bathroom was completely taken over by the fumes of the chemicals, making it impossible for poor David to breathe. In his description, David began to throw up blood and mucus and into the toilet, and his only source of oxygen was small heat vent that turned on periodically, therefore he had to hold his breath for several minutes at a time. As one can imagine, this is a horrible image and quite unbelievable. The fact that a mother can enforce such harsh punishment on her own son is very striking. Not only does this image symbolize the vulnerability of David Pelzer, but it also portrays the radicalness and insanity in Catherine Roerva's behavior and so called "punishment". Pelzer's use of great detail in his imagery makes the text much more compelling to read and allows the reader to connect to his pains and sorrows. When Pelzer describes his sleepless nights in the basement after vomiting blood into the sink due to his "gas-chamber" punishments, the reader can not help but feel sorry for all the troubles he has endured, and can only wish that it eventually it stops, however it does not.
Imagery and Symbolism