What is the response elicited in the reader in "Through the Tunnel" by Doris Lessing?

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

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I think it is clear that Lessing wants us to feel that Jerry has been very brave and strong in terms of going through his own coming-of-age initiation. He has proved to himself that he is no longer a child, dependent on his mother, and has grown up. This response is of course linked to the central theme of the story, which is the way that we all need some kind of coming-of-age initiation which shows both ourselves and others that we are no longer children. At the end of the story, we see the mother surprised at an easy victory as she expected a "battle of wills" with her son. However, for Jerry, now that he has completed his own self-imposed task, we are told that "it was no longer of the least importance to go down to the bay." We as readers are left with the impression that now Jerry has done what he set himself to complete, he does not need to exert his independence in the same way as he did, going by himself to the "wild bay." We are left with an impression of a boy who has grown up.

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