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In "Through the Tunnel," what is the symbolism of these settings: the wild...

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shambl | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 2, 2008 at 1:37 PM via web

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In "Through the Tunnel," what is the symbolism of these settings: the wild beach, the safe beach, and the tunnel?

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amethystrose | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted April 2, 2008 at 9:10 PM (Answer #1)

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In Doris Lessing's "Through the Tunnel", the two beaches symbolize the two parts of Jerry that are in conflict.  The safe beach, where his mother relaxes, represents the safety and maternal protection Jerry experienced as a child.  The wild beach represents the part of Jerry that wishes to break away from his mother's sheltering watch and become more independent.  It is at the wild beach that he sees the boys swimming through an underwater tunnel, and he decides to prove himself so that he can feel a sense of "belonging" to a group of peers, even though he never actually joins in with them.  He sees what they can do, and he challenges himself, through intense self-training, to be like them.  The tunnel represents Jerry's Rite of Passage as he moves from childhood toward becoming more independent.

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