Through the Tunnel Questions and Answers
by Doris Lessing

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Explain how Lessing's childhood experiences may have influenced her storytelling in "Through the Tunnel."

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The first thing we need to know in order to answer this question is a little background on who Doris Lessing was and what her background and childhood were like. Having been born in Persia (modern-day Iran) in 1919, she and her family relocated to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where she spent her childhood on her father’s farm. Growing up in southern Africa during this time meant growing up in an environment in which racism was everywhere, and as a person with white skin, Doris would have had innumerable advantages and opportunities that were not afforded to those with darker skin.

The first indication of her upbringing having an impact on this story is when Jerry notices that the boys swimming near the rocks are different to him based on the color of their skin. Lessing then depicts how badly Jerry wants the approval of these boys, which is quite ironic, given that at the time in southern Africa, the approval of a black man would have meant less than nothing. The fact that these...

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