Through the Tunnel Questions and Answers
by Doris Lessing

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Explain this passage from "Through the Tunnel": "The boy is still a child, looking for security and at the same time confronted with an opposite feeling."

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"Through the Tunnel" is a coming of age story, so the question is spot on in that it correctly characterizes the young Jerry as a boy caught between wanting his mother's attention and security and wanting a bit of independence.

Readers can see these warring emotions early on in the story when Jerry's mother asks him if he would like to go somewhere other than their usual beach. Jerry quickly replies that he doesn't want that, but the text says that his answer is largely influenced by his habit of contrition and chivalry.

A few moments later, Jerry blurts that he would indeed like to go look at some rocks in a different area. Jerry's mom acquiesces, and the text says that Jerry ran straight out into the water and began swimming. He is clearly excited for the independence that he has just gained. His mother is letting him out of her sight, and she even told him to come back whenever he was ready:

When you’ve had enough, come to the big beach. Or just go straight back to the villa, if you like.

Although Jerry is excited for his independence, he is not fully capable of entirely embracing the lack of security that he has when he is around his mother.

Readers can see this once Jerry is out in the water, and he looks back to make sure his mother is still on the beach. He turns and sees a speck of yellow that he thinks could be her. Jerry then swims back in order to make sure it is, and we are told that he is relieved to be sure it is his mother. He wants the freedom, but he is wary of the lack of security.

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