Through the Tunnel--critical analysis

Length: 2 Pages 390 Words

“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 brig Continue...


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. For most, the transition from childhood to adulthood is a very difficult time, which once accomplished does not seem as flattering as it did before it was accomplished. 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. He needs to belong, to feel accepted, and he feels as though he will only be accepted by successful passage through he tunnel. The swim through the tunnel symbolizes Jerry's passage from childhood to adulthood. Jerry finally reaches his goal: successful passage through the tunnel. Jerry's initial attempts to swim through the tunnel are marked by his immaturity. Jerry's rite was not uncommon for most adolescents. Jerry's rite of passage is easy for most to identify with. 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. Jerry makes his attempts mandatory because he desperately seeks approval from the older boys. His mother still treats Jerry as a boy; thus his metamorphosis has yet to take place. After he completed his trip, he no longer felt the burning desire to feel accepted.