“Through the Tunnel”, by Doris Lessing is a story about a boy named Jerry, and how he matures over time. Jerry wanted to be included in a group of older boys. He thought they would accept him if he could swim through a tunnel underwater. For Jerry, movement through the tunnel is a passage from the immaturity of boyhood to the maturity of adulthood.
As the story opens, the author refers to Jerry as “the boy,” suggesting his relative immaturity. On the first page Lessing uses his mother to demonstrate his adolescence. “His mother walked in front of him, carrying a bright striped bag in one hand.” When the author wrote that his mother walked in front of him, the impression is given that she walks ahead to protect him from a potential accident. His mother still treats Jerry as a boy; thus his metamorphosis has yet to take place.
Jerry’s initial attempts to swim through the tunnel are marked by his immaturity. Jerry makes his attempts mandatory because he desperately seeks approval from the older boys. He needs to belong, to feel accepted, and he feels as though he will only be accepted by successful passage through he tunnel. As Jerry “practices” holding his breath and swimming, he begins to change. When his nose starts to bleed from countless time spent under water, he does not tell his mother, showing that he doesn’t fully rely on her care anymore. When Jerry asks his mother for swim goggles, it shows that he is still dependent on his mother, and his maturing process will not take place overnight.
The swim through the tunnel symbolizes Jerry’s passage from childhood to adulthood. Jerry finally reaches his goal: successful passage through the tunnel. After he completed his trip, he no longer felt the burning desire to feel accepted. Jerry does not tell anyone that he swam through the tunnel, demonstrating that he does not need to be congratulated or accepted by the older boys; a feeling he once longed to achieve...