Through the Tunnel by Doris Lessing

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Plot Jerry's relationship with his mother. 

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"Through the Tunnel" is a rite of passage story; therefore, Jerry begins in an immature state and reaches a level of maturity which he has not had before.

  • Without a husband, Jerry's mother probably feels more protective of her son than a married woman would, yet she is "determined to be neither possessive nor lacking in devotion."
  • While Jerry senses the loss of his father, he feels he should be more attentive to his mother, acting from an "unfailing impulse of contrition--a sense of guilt about his father's death?--a sort of chivalry."
  • Jerry and his mother seem devoted to each other in their solitariness at the beach. For example, when Jerry first swims out in the ocean a ways, he searches for his mother on the beach.
  • When he swims out and tries to interact with the native boys, Jerry goes farther from his mother, still, the boys perceive him as childish when he splashes and acts silly to get their attention. Jerry is perplexed because when he acts this way before his mother, she usually laughs.
  • He checks to see that his mother is yet on the beach. Moreover, he swims back to her.
  • But, when he swims to the shore, he is insistent that he needs swim goggles. He is beginning to assert himself.
  • Unbeknownst to his mother, Jerry returns to the large barrier rock where the older boys have swum and, wearing the goggles, he searches for the gap through which they have passed earlier.
  • He discovers a gap and panic fills him, so he swims to shore. But, he plans his strategy for passing the through "that cave" later.
  • So, he practices holding his breath, and for the next two days, he exercises his lungs to the point that his nose bleeds at night.
  • On the third day, Jerry does not what to accompany his mother to what he now considers a beach for children. "It was not his beach." He is maturing.
  • On the fourth day, Jerry does not ask his...

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