Through the Tunnel by Doris Lessing

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In "Through the Tunnel," what is the symbolism of these settings: the wild beach, the safe beach, and the tunnel?

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The usual interpretation is that the "safe beach" represents the comfort and security of Jerry's childhood and his mother and the rocky, "wild beach" represents the unknown adolescent future without his mother. The "tunnel" is a challenge or rite of passage or test Jerry must pass to gain access to that future.

His determination to be able to swim through the tunnel like the older French boys stems from a desire to test himself, to discover new abilities, both in his body and his will. It is telling that much of the story has to do with the analytical way Jerry goes about preparing himself for the attempt to swim through the tunnel; unlike the French boys, who seem to Jerry to effortlessly go through, he has to approach things very carefully. He approaches it like a job: he practices holding his breath, he thinks about how long he will need to be underwater, he even requisitions from his mother the necessary equipment (the goggles).

Of course his mother has no idea of what he is up to,...

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