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Through The Tunnel

Choose a short story that deals with the theme of leaving childhood behind and shows how the author puts across this theme by using the craft of the short story. I have chosen to write about a short story that deals with the theme of leaving childhood behind. It is called “Through the Tunnel” and was written by Doris Lessing. There is a contrast between the two main settings, the bid, crowded safe beach and the wild, rocky bay. Jerry grows tired of the big safe beach. He notices a wild, rocky bay that intrigues him. The boy and his mother are on holiday in the south of France. They have a villa that they go to every year. Jerry has always gone to the safe beach with his mother. “The crowded beach he knew so well from other years”.

As they walk down the path towards the crowded beach jerry stopped at a turning in the path and glanced down at the wild and rocky bay. Throughout the story, the bay is described as being dangerous and unsafe. “Inlets of rough, sharp rock”. Colours are also used to signify the danger. “Stains of purple and darker blue”. The colours create a sense of danger. The colours are of bruises as if someone had fallen down the sharp and dangerous rocks. “Rocks lay like discoloured monsters” This simile makes the rocks seem scary as if they might harm or cause damage. “Irregular cold currents” This describes the atmosphere and feel of the cold, unsafe water. In the middle of the story, jerry gets a pair of goggles and goes back to the rocky bay. When he goes under the water he sees things in a whole different perspective, everything seems clear like he is seeing it for the first time as if he had fish eyes.

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“The water sparkled as if sequins were dropping through it”. This simile shows that the water sparkled and the fish and sea life moved along slowly. “It was like swimming in flaked silver”. This makes it seem that the fish were playfully dancing around him. The word flaked could be used to represent the silver scales from the fish. “Tiny touches”. This use of alliteration describes how the small fish touched his skin as they swam by. It was because of the goggles that jerry began to understand and appreciate the magnificent underwater scenery. To begin with, the character of jerry is dependent and immature. “Look at me! Look!’ and he began splashing around like a foolish dog”. This proves jerry was being immature and attention-seeking.

Another example of his childishness is when he demands that he wants swimming goggles and pesters his mother until she goes with him to a shop to buy some. “He nagged ad pestered until she went with him to a shop. As soon as she had bought the goggles, he grabbed them from her hand as if she were going to claim them for herself, and was off, running down the steep path towards the bay”. Jerry is an only child who is 11 years old, his father had died and he lives with his mother. The task of jerry swimming through the tunnel is like rites of passage. It can be meant in both a literal and a metaphorical way. It could be meant in the sense that a journey is made through the tunnel from an immature child to a mature adolescent.

Jerry begins to show his mature side after receiving the goggles. “Jerry exercised his lungs as if everything, the whole of his life, all that he would become, depended upon it”. He begins to show maturity by controlling his breathing and being independent. By the end of the story, jerry shows a whole new mature side to his behaviour. “It was no longer of the least importance to go to the bay”. Jerry realises that he no longer cares about the bay and the tunnel. The character of jerry’s mother plays an important part in the story. She is a widow. She wants jerry to know that she is there for him but doesn’t want to make him feel he needs to be with her. “Have I been keeping him too close? He mustn’t feel he ought to be with me. I must be careful”.

She begins to worry that she may be acting too over protectively. She begins to wonder if jerry is getting bored of the big safe beach. Jerry eventually asks if he can go to the wild, rocky bay by himself and she allows it. When jerry returns to the villa and has serious nosebleeds she begins to worry that he might be overdoing the swimming down by the rocky bay. Towards the end of the story, she begins to notice his maturity and independence. “She was ready for a battle of the wills, but he gave in at once”. Some language used can show that jerry is leaving childhood behind. “Her other swinging loose”. Jerry feels that he is now too old to hold his mother’s hand. When his mother feels he is not with her she swings her arm loose for him to take. Another example of jerry leaving childhood is when he learns to control his breathing so that he can be underwater for longer.

“As if everything, the whole of his life, all that he would become, depended upon it”. His character shows a stronger side when he realises what he must do in order to control his breathing and achieve his goal. Some of the words used in the story give a powerful effect and sense of realism. “Showed stains of purple and darker blue”. The colours give a sense of danger. Similes used in the story help create an image in our heads and something to relate the words to. “Feeling the pleading grin on his ace-like a scar he could never remove”. This simile compares jerry’s embarrassment to a scar. This shows that jerry felt so embarrassed that it might never go away. “He began splashing and kicking in the water like a foolish dog”.

This simile compares jerry’s immaturity and attention-seeking to that of a foolish dog. It shows that he was leaping around in a clumsy way. Short simple sentences increase the pace and add to the tension of whether or not he will be successful. “The water palled. Victory filed him”. Short sentences are effective because they add to the suspense of the story. Repetition is used near the end of the story when jerry is in the tunnel. “A hundred and fifteen, a hundred and fifteen pounded through his head”. The repetition adds suspense. We begin to wonder if jerry will make it or give up. I think that the short story “Through the Tunnel” by Doris Lessing, does deal with the theme of leaving childhood. Doris Lessing puts this across effectively by using the craft of the short story.

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Through The Tunnel. (2021, Apr 14). Retrieved May 9, 2021, from