"In Through the Tunnel," why does the mother let Jerry go to the rocks if she is worried about him and can predict what will happen?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Doris Lessing's "Through the Tunnel" has maturation as its theme.  When Jerry receives only the grave frowning from the bigger boys, he realizes that they perceive him as a mere child. So, he wants to dive under the rocks as they do, go through the underwater tunnel, and come up on the other side.  When he can do this action, Jerry believes that he will, then, be a man.

On the day before he left, he would do it.  He would do it if it killed him, he said defiantly to himself.

But, long before he has these thoughts, Jerry and his mother are on the "safe beach" which they have visited for years.  This year, however, Jerry has looked at the "wild bay" and thinks about it all morning. Sensing his interest in the bay, his mother asks him, "Would you like to go somewhere else?" At first, Jerry demurs; however, as they walk, he says that he would like to explore the rocks at the wild bay. Despite the wildness and loneliness of the area, his mother gives her permission,

"Of course, Jerry.  When you've had enough, come to the big beach. Or just go straight back to the villa...."

As Jerry departs, the mother worries that she has been keeping Jerry too close to her; she tells herself, "He mustn't feel he ought to be with me.  I must be careful."  Jerry's mother does not want to smother him or treat him as if he is a child.  Although she is anxious, she lets Jerry go because she does not want to appear "possessive" and controlling. For, she knows her son must become a young man.


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