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"Through The Tunnel" by Doris Lessing

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"Through The Tunnel" by Doris Lessing essay
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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.

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.

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”.

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“Through the Tunnel” by Doris Lessing. (2019, January 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 11, 2022, from
““Through the Tunnel” by Doris Lessing.” GradesFixer, 15 Jan. 2019,
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