Through the Tunnel by Doris Lessing

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How is Jerry's growth and evolving maturity reflected in his relationship with his mother?

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Lenny Wiza eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Jerry's relationship with his mother is a bit unusual in that he is an only child and she is a widow; thus, they are unusually attuned to one another's feelings.  She understands that at eleven years old Jerry is at the very beginning of the stage of development when children begin to separate from their parents and assert their own identity. Although it worries her, she begins the process of allowing him more independence.  

Jerry, the "man" of their tiny family, is attempting to find a way to balance looking after his mom, seen in his "unfailing impulse of contrition—a sort of chivalry" and his eagerness to attain the ability to swim through the tunnel.

As his desire to swim through the tunnel intensifies, so do Jerry's impulses toward independence.  When he realizes he needs swim goggles, he "nag[s] and pester[s]" his mother until he gets them.  Eventually, he stops asking his mother for permission to go to the beach where the the tunnel is; he simply leaves the villa before...

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