How does the setting of "Through the Tunnel" support the theme?
The first theme, rite of passage, deals with Jerry's transition from boyhood to adolescence. This is reflected in his physical passage through the tunnel underwater. When he first approaches it in view of the local boys, he is not only unable to coss it, but he is also very fearful of it, showing his immaturity. However, he keeps working at it until he is finally able to cross straight through and achieve, quite possibly, the biggest goal he has ever set for himself.
The second theme is individualism. Jerry is an individual moreso at the end than at the beginning. At the start of the story, Jerry is trying to fit in with the local boys; however, his goal of passing through the tunnel at the end is moreso for his own individual desires than to show off to the boys.
The final theme, alienation and loneliness, also is tied in with the other two themes in that all he did was initially propelled by his desire to fit in. He was unable to do this and instead his immaturity caused him to be alienated by the boys, thus making him feel lonely. Later on, he embraces this alienation and uses it to his advantage to complete the task he has set forth for himself.