Through the Tunnel

by Doris Lessing
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Does Doris Lessing describe the setting well in "Through The Tunnel"? Please explain.

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Lessing does a very good job of describing the setting in this short story. There are two main locations in this foreign country, which could be North Africa or France, and they are the "wild bay" that Jerry is so entranced by, and then the safer, more domesticated beach where his mother goes every day. What is key is the way in which Lessing uses her description to present the "wild bay" as a much more exciting and dramatic place than the beach where his mother goes. Note how this is described:

From where he was, high up among red-brown rocks, it was a scoop of moving bluish greenfringed with white. As he went lower, he saw that it spread among small promontories and inlets of rough, sharp rock, and the crisping, lapping surface showed stains of purple and darker blue.

The adjectives "rough" and "sharp" serve to emphasise the danger of the rocks and how undomesticated this bay is, and this is supported through the use of the word "stains," that suggests the colour has somehow bled into the surface of the sea. The reference to dark colours, such as "purple and darker blue" helps to accentuate the presentation of this setting as a place of mystery as compared to the more domesticated beach that is much more boring and predictable in comparison. It is easy to understand why Jerry is so interested in the wild bay, and why he wants to go there. As a young boy, it proves to be an excellent location for him to explore what it is to be a man and to set himself challenges that are dangerous and will have significance for him.

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