The book I am reading is 'Through the Tunnel' by Doris Lessing.  In the section "Then one smiled" to "cried himself out", which word or expression shows Jerry's insecurity and akwardness with the...

The book I am reading is 'Through the Tunnel' by Doris Lessing.

 

In the section "Then one smiled" to "cried himself out", which word or expression shows Jerry's insecurity and akwardness with the other boys? Why does Jerry feel this way? Why does he make a fool of himself?

Asked on by unique145

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kiwi's profile pic

kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

Jerry is naive in the ways of the foreign boys, holidaying with his mother and beginning his foray into independence by exploring the 'wild and rocky bay' for the first time. Once he sees the cameraderie, ease and confidence of the other boys as they swim and dive he is compelled be with them. As they lose interest he attempts to draw their attention to him by any means possible. Jerry 'cried himself out' when he felt that they had deserted him by swimming through the tunnel.

Jerry was humiliated by their rejection. As revealed in his-

"pleading grin on his face like a scar that he could never remove."

 

dstuva's profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In Doris Lessing's short story, "Through the Tunnel," Jerry is, indeed, insecure and awkward and does make a fool of himself.  It's important to remember that Jerry is a little kid.  His behavior is not completely unusual.  He is overprotected by his mother and apparently doesn't have many friends.  He is alone at the beach and craves someone to play with.  It's the kind of craving that he may not have even been aware of until his craving was met by the older boys.  And the fact that the boys were older is significant.  He is insecure, anyway, but he is in a foreign land, among boys who speak a different language, and with boys who are older.

He is ecstatic when the boys accept him, but when they go somewhere he cannot go and do something he cannot do, he is left out and feels crushed.  He craves attention and in a panic he tries to get it any way he can:

And now, in a panic of failure, he yelled up, in English, 'Look at me!  Look!'  and he began splashing and kicking in the water like a foolish dog.

Then he shouts out some common French words and "hooked his fingers round his ears and waggled them."  This behavior, of course, makes little sense, but he is just trying to get attention.

The good news is that Jerry matures during the course of the rest of the story, although he does it at quite a cost.

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