Sunday, July 15, 2018

Through the Tunnel by Doris Lessing --- Analysis

The short story "Through the Tunnel" by Doris Lessing told about the young English boy, Jerry, who came with his mother for a summer vacation to the sea abroad. The author described in the first paragraph these two people: the mother walked on in front of the boy, carrying a bright-striped bag and the boy who stopped at turning off the path and looked down at a wild and rocky bay.

Next morning Jerry asked his mother to permit him to go and have a look at the rocks there. She agreed. He was an only child, eleven years old, she was a widow. She thought that he mustn't feel he ought to be with her.

Jerry went down to the rock, he jumped into the sea, he was a good swimmer. He dived and when he appeared on the surface, he noticed a group of boys. They spoke a language which he didn't understand. He very much wanted to be with them. He was so glad to see that one boy noticed him and smiled. They shouted cheerfully at him and when they understood that he was a foreigner they proceeded to ignore him. Jerry was happy to be with them.

Next time Jerry saw one boy dived into the water and didn't come up. Jerry yelled in warning, the other boys looked at him idly and turned their eyes back toward the water. After a long time, the boy came up on the other side of a rock and shouted triumphantly. The other boys followed the example of the fellow, and Jerry understood that they swam through the tunnel in the rock.

The idea of going through the tunnel intrigued Jerry. He had passed several classes at a diving school. He thought he must learn to control his breathing. He counted the time being underwater, Jerry exercised his lungs as if it was the goal of his whole life. At night, the boy dreamed of the water-filled cave in the rock. His nose was bleeding.

He continued training. The boys made a pause while he counted a hundred and sixty. He thought that now if he tried, he could get through that long tunnel, but he was not going to try yet. The author wrote, "A curious, most unchildlike persistence, a controlled impatience, made him wait."

He understood how dangerous swimming through the tunnel could be. He was frightened but he said to himself that if he did not do it now, he never would. Eventually, he did it. It happened in the morning, he went to the beach and swam through the tunnel. When he came to the surface, he saw "the local boys diving and playing half a mile away. He did not want them. He wanted nothing but to get back home and lie down."

He told his mother that he can stay underwater for three minutes. The mother looked at him closely. She noticed that his face was pale, he was strained. His eyes were glazed-looking. She was worried. She was ready to argue against his underwater swimming, "but he gave in at once. It was no longer of the least importance to go to the bay."

A reader can assume that when the boy becomes an adult he would be recognized for the great achievements. The idea that if you set your mind to something, then you can accomplish it - was expressed in Jerry’s desire to getting through the tunnel and as a result, he did that. After Jerry reached his goal, he no longer felt the desire to demonstrate it or to be congratulated by the other boys. In the case of Jerry, the tunnel symbolizes the passage from childhood to adulthood. In the story of the boy who went through the tunnel, the author represented people who are able to overcome difficulties.

Here is the link to the text of the story: