"Through The Tunnel" by Doris Lessing

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 470 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Jan 15, 2019

Words: 470|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Jan 15, 2019

In Doris Lessing’s short story, “Through the Tunnel”, growing up is a difficult and sometimes painful process. Jerry shows he wants to be independent through the symbolism of the way he moves on from the safe beach, enters the wild rocky bay with uncertainty, and finally goes through the tunnel.

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At the beginning, Jerry shows his will to be independent through the symbolism of the “safe beach” and how he moves on from it. The “safe beach” is the beach Jerry has “always visited” with his mother. Then one day as Jerry walks with his mother toward the safe beach, his mother notices him looking over his shoulder at the wild bay beyond them. “Are you tired of the usual beach, Jerry?” she inquires, he responds quickly and asks to explore the the “wild rocks there”. She lets him trying not to be too protective. Jerry starts to swim out to sea where he saw his mum: “There she was, a speck of yellow under an umbrella that looked like a slice of orange peel”. This shows that the sunny, cheerful colors of yellow and orange characterize the beach and his mother. It is a place which is bright and secure and somewhere where Jerry looks when he is uncertain.

However, Jerry is trying to break free from his mother and trying to be independent but at the same time making a slow transition. In the middle of the story, Jerry shows his will to be independent through the symbolism of the “wild rocky bay” and how he challenges his uncertainty. The “wild rocky bay” seems like a place which is very dangerous. The water itself shows “stains of purple and darker blue”, under the water “rocks lay like discoloured monsters” and beneath the surface, “irregular cold currents from the deep water”. This beach is full of hazards, the water perilous. The connotation of words like “stains” and “monsters” is overwhelmingly gloomy, while the image of purple and blue stains sounds like a bruise. The rocky beach and its dangers are symbolic of adulthood and the transition into it. Jerry is no longer protected as he is far from his mother, who is a “yellow speck” on the safe beach, Jerry feels independent.

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At this wilder beach, Jerry encounters older boys who can dive and swim through a tunnel that is underwater for a long time. When they realize that he cannot pass through the hollowed rock beneath the sea as they do. So, wishing to be like the “big boys”, Jerry returns to the villa and demands to have a pair of swimming goggles so he can explore this rock through which the older boys pass. This shows that now there is no one to protect Jerry from the outside world and he is transitioning from a child to a “big boy”.

Works Cited

  1. Lessing, D. (1955). Through the Tunnel. In The Habit of Loving (pp. 51-61). London: Michael Joseph Ltd.
  2. Rehman, N., & Rashid, M. (2015). Doris Lessing’s “Through the Tunnel”: A Symbolic Journey of Self-Discovery. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 6(4), 137-144. doi:10.5901/mjss.2015.v6n4p137
  3. Lerner, L. (2010). Doris Lessing's “Through the Tunnel”: Crossing the Watershed. The Explicator, 68(2), 95-98. doi:10.1080/00144940903532889
  4. Kakavoulis, M., & Trikki, A. (2021). Doris Lessing's “Through the Tunnel”: The Psychological Journey of a Boy into Adulthood. Education Sciences, 11(2), 85. doi:10.3390/educsci11020085
  5. Nünning, A., & Nünning, V. (2009). Short Stories and Textual Spaces: The Significance of Spatiality in Doris Lessing's “Through the Tunnel.” Spatial Representations and Perception in Literary and Cultural Studies (pp. 245-258). Trier: WVT Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier.
  6. Birkett, J. (2012). Reading “Through the Tunnel” as a Bildungsroman. Critical Survey, 24(1), 18-30. doi:10.3167/cs.2012.240102
  7. Tsai, W. Y. (2019). Reading “Through the Tunnel”: Rites of Passage and Cultural Identity. CLELEjournal: Children's Literature in English Language Education, 7(1), 23-37. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.10609.74081
  8. Cook, G. (2017). The Journey as Metaphor: Doris Lessing's “Through the Tunnel” and George Mackay Brown's “The Last Voyage.” Aesthetica, 7, 54-74. Retrieved from
  9. Bhattarai, B. (2019). “Through the Tunnel”: A Psychological Analysis. Journal of Education and Research, 9(2), 108-114. doi:10.3126/jer.v9i2.24852
  10. Jeyaraj, S., & Rabiyathul Basri, K. (2018). From Childhood to Adulthood: A Psychological Study of Doris Lessing's “Through the Tunnel.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 7(3), 200-205. doi:10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.7n.3p.200
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“Through the Tunnel” by Doris Lessing. (2019, January 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 7, 2023, from
““Through the Tunnel” by Doris Lessing.” GradesFixer, 15 Jan. 2019,
“Through the Tunnel” by Doris Lessing. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 7 Dec. 2023].
“Through the Tunnel” by Doris Lessing [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Jan 15 [cited 2023 Dec 7]. Available from:
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