In "Through the Tunnel," identify the perspectives that affected the main character?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Arguably the central perspective that affected Jerry in this excellent story was the relationship that Jerry has with his mother. It is clear that at the start of the tale she is struggling to let Jerry go and let him do what he wants to do. Note how she starts to encourage him to go with her to the "safe beach," instead of going to the dangerous beach:

She looked impatient, then smiled. "Why, darling, would you rather not come with me? Would you rather - " She frowned, conscientiously worrying over what amusements he might secretly be longing for, which she had been too busy or too careless to imagine.

We are given a greater insight into her character the next day as she decides to let Jerry go to the "wild bay" by himself. As she walks away, Lessing uses an interior monologue to reveal the mother's thoughts to us as she tries to encourage herself that she is doing the right thing:

She was thinking, Of course he's old enough to be safe without me. Have I been keeping him too close? He mustn't feel he ought to be with me. I must be careful.

He was an only child, eleven years old. She was a widow. She was determined to be neither possessive nor lacking in devotion. She went worrying off to her beach.

The last details about her and Jerry are particularly telling. For her, as a widow, with one child, of course she is going to struggle to "let Jerry go" and to allow him to grow up. It is interesting that before we are told that "contrition" compelled Jerry to go with his mother, even though he would prefer to go to the wild bay.

Thus the mother and her perspective is of central importance to this story, and we are forced to see how Jerry has to win his way through to adulthood on his own terms away from her care.


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