Through the Tunnel

by Doris Lessing

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How does Jerry's beach differ from his mother's in "Through the Tunnel"?

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As a young boy, Jerry is naturally curious about the world around him. He's full of adventure and so wants to join the local boys in exploring the wild and rocky bay. This rugged landscape is far removed from the touristy beach where Jerry's mother prefers to stay. Jerry's mother seems quite happy to remain in so-called civilization among all the other people on the crowded beach. But not Jerry. His sense of wonder leads him to head on out to the rocks.

As well as being a place of excitement, the rocky bay is a place of danger. (In fact, the two go together). But it is only through experiencing life's dangers that Jerry will ever be able to mature. He can't be mollycoddled by his mother forever. The safe, crowded tourist beach where Jerry's mother stays stands as a metaphor for the childhood that Jerry wishes to leave behind to enter into manhood.

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Jerry's mother's beach seems "safe" to him, like a place for children to go and be looked after by their parents. His beach, however, is "wild" and rocky. Rocks lie like "monsters" on the ocean floor, and the water is colored like bruises. The "rough, sharp rock" of Jerry's beach contrasts with his mother's much more typical, vacation-like beach where she sits with her umbrella, which looks like a "slice of orange" to Jerry from his dangerous beach. The water of his beach is shocking to the limbs due to the "irregular, cold currents" that seem to come in from the much deeper waters. Local boys who are several years older than he swim at his beach, splashing and playing, and they seem like "men, to Jerry." Jerry's mother's beach becomes associated, at least in his mind, with children and safety, and he associates his wild beach with independence and adulthood.

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