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Through the Tunnel Essay

Everyone at some stage wants to grow up. We all try to act maturely at a certain time to impress other people, peers and parents. However when ‘growing up’ we are faced with challenges that we have to overcome. Doris Lessing is a famous author, known for her short stories. One of her famous stories Through the Tunnel is a rite of passage story about a young boy growing up. The main protagonist Jerry is an 11-year-old boy presented to us a ‘loner’. He faces the challenge of swimming through a tunnel. He eventually overcomes it with persistence and determination. The themes conveyed throughout this story are: to grow up you have to break free, when growing up it is important to gain independence and growing up requires persistence and determination. These themes are supported by characterisation, plot structure and setting. I admire Jerry for his persistence and then success and don’t think I could have done this myself.

The story teaches us that to grow up you have to break free. Jerry in Through the Tunnel breaks free from his loneliness. He is referred to as ‘the loner’ throughout the story and makes no mention of friends. Jerry is always with his mother and they are very protective over each other because there is no one else in any of their lives. He manages to break free from his loneliness by making friends with the Local boys and he feels accepted. There are two narrative conventions that support the theme. The characterisation of Jerry is shown when he meets the Local boys. “To be with them; was a craving that filled his whole body.” This shows us that he wants to be with them because he has never had any proper friends. The setting is described as desolate and no one at the beach. “It was a wild-looking place, and there was no one there.” This is indicative of his loneliness. Jerry teaches us that it is important to break free from something when growing up. In his case, it is breaking free from his loneliness and being accepted into society but it could be from another person, object or oneself.

Another theme that the story teaches us is that growing up requires persistence and determination. Jerry sees the older boys swimming, what he thought to be, through a tunnel. He had a desire to be grown up, like them; so he sets a challenge for himself. To get through the tunnel before he leaves Paris. He manages to overcome the challenge with sheer hard work, persistence and determination. There are two Narrative conventions that help create the theme; these are characterisation and plot structure. Jerry comes back every single day to practice his breathing. “The day and the next, Jerry exercised his lungs as if every thing, the whole of his life depended on it.”

He pushed himself so hard until his nose bled every night he went there. He also demands that he has swimming goggles. “I want swimming goggles.” … “But now, now, now!” This shows how much determination he has to complete his small challenge. Plot structure is also used to help create the theme. “Again and again he rose, took a big chestful of air, and went down. Again and Again.” It is very repetitive and shows Jerry’s determination and how he always comes back. Jerry teaches us that to grow up you have to show persistence and determination. This could be when completing a personal challenge or studying for tests, or practising sport.

Jerry and his mother teach us to grow up you have to gain independence. Jerry has always been with his mother and always listened to her. He never felt the need to go astray and leave her nest of protection until this holiday. The two narrative conventions that help create the themes are characterisation and setting. Jerry started off very dependent on his mother and would always follow her around.

He started to gain some independence when he tells his mother he wants to go to the rocks. “I’d like to go and have a look at those rocks down there. ” He then gains more independence on the third day he goes down there, he does not ask for permission. ”He did not ask for permission, on the following day.” The setting helps create the theme by using contrast. The story refers to the “safe beach” and “wild bay”, these are symbolic of his mother and Jerry starting to gain his independence. The safe beach is symbolic of his mother and how she is very protective over Jerry. Whereas the wild bay is symbolic of Jerry and how he is growing up and gaining independence. Jerry and his mother teach us the importance of independence when growing up.

I really enjoyed the short story Through the Tunnel by Doris Lessing. It is a well-written rite of passage, which teaches parents and children valuable messages conveyed by Jerry and his mother. Examples of these are: to grow up you have to break free, when growing up it is important to gain independence and growing up requires persistence and determination. These themes are created using narrative conventions such as characterisation, plot, structure and setting. I admire Jerry for what he did and can remember some challenges that I set for myself.

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Through the Tunnel Essay. (2021, May 12). Retrieved September 11, 2021, from