Through Tunnel Doris Lessing Critical Essay

There is more than one!

This is a "mini" 'coming of age' story where a young eleven-year-old puts his life at risk to prove to himself that he can "win." The challenge he sets up for himself and confronts is to swim the length of an underwater tunnel and make it to the other end. This is not just a survival test but a kind of self-made initiation rite into manhood.

The need to "prove" oneself is a necessary part of growing up, for acceptance into a group, perhaps, but especially for oneself. Self-estime is largely based  on self-confidence, and self-confidence needs reference points of challenges and accomplishments. In this story the boy never tells what he has done, but there is no need to do so. He has tested his own limits, even depassed them, and for him knowing that is enough.

Check out the references below for more themes found in this short story. An' interesting read' concerning the necessity for adolescents to confront danger is a book entitled Magical Child by Joseph Chilton Pearce - if you've got the interest and the time.

The story, Through the tunnel, is about a boy named Jerry and is 11 years old. In this story a Jerry goes to the beach with his mother on vacation.

In this story Jerry tries to impress several foreign boys by attempting to swim through a tunnel. Jerry is a calm and collected person; he is not one who would raise his voice or yell. He likes to meet new people and to Jerry this is the perfect opportunity. However, Jerry is a person who likes to push himself to the limits and enjoys a challenge. With these qualities Jerry is easy to get along with. When Jerry sees the foreign boys swimming, he decides to ask them if he can swim with them. But Jerry realizes that the boys don’t speak his language but tries to talk to them in French.

Without no communication Jerry has to rely on body language and actions. When Jerry sees the boys swimming in the water below and then pop out on top of the rocks, he decides to check it out and see what is down there. He saw a black tunnel which was very dark and ominous. As Jerry tries to swim through it, he becomes afraid and decides to go back. As he came up for air he saw the boys snickering at him and Jerry decided he must do this to impress the boys and have them like him. So he asked his mother to buy him some goggles so that he could swim. After the boys would leave in the afternoon, Jerry would stay down there and work on his breathing and concentrating on going through the tunnel. When its Jerry’s last day of vacation he says to himself that it is the last day to do this. To prepare himself he sat in front of the clock to see how long he could hold his breath. As he goes through the tunnel, his life flashes before his eyes.

One might say the tunnel was a journey of maturity. The theme of this story is individualism. Jerry takes a journey through the tunnel, entering reliant and feeble, but when he exits he is free. It is about a personal journey and struggle to find himself and set himself apart.

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