Through The Tunnel Symbolism

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Louise J. Kaplan believes that, “Adolescents represents an inner emotional upheaval, a struggle between the eternal human wish to cling to the past and the equally powerful wish to get on with the future.” In her short story, “Through the Tunnel”, Doris Lessing documents this exact wish of an eleven year old boy who is carefully balanced between wanting to stay young and develop into a mature adult. In this tale, Jerry, the young boy, and his widowed mother are vacationing at a beach near a “rocky and wild” (Lessing) bay that Jerry wants to explore because he is unamused with the beach he has grown accustomed to.. When he roughly wanders down the bay and into the ocean, he encounters a group of native boys, diving from the promontory and down into the “well of blue sea between rough, pointed rocks”(Lessing)and through a tunnel in the rocks. He immediately wanted to feel accepted by them and soon enough he was, until he made a fool of himself and drove them away. His next goal is to swim through the tunnel as the boys did. But first,…show more content…
At a pivotal part in the story, Jerry demonstrates patience by learning to control his breath and allow himself to pass through the tunnel. As stated by the author, “That day and the next, Jerry exercised his lungs as if everything, the whole of his life, all that he would become, depended upon it” (Lessing). This represents his dedication and persistence to leaving the recognizable beach behind and trading it for the exotic wonders beyond the tunnel through the rock. As stated by Kathleen Wilson, “Jerry’s ability to hold his breathe may also be understood as a symbolic assertion of his independence.” This supports the idea that Jerry wants to be on his own and explore new places in preparation for a more extensive immigration from his mother and childhood ways. With this, he proves that he can be on his own and not under the wing of his
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