In "Through the Tunnel," why is the beach "not his beach"? How does this detail hint at the symbolic meaning of the two beaches?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jerry says the "safe beach" is "not his beach" because it "now seemed a place for small children [...]." He has been practicing and practicing in order to swim through the tunnel in the rock, something that the "big boys—men to Jerry" could do. Fitting in with them has been so important to him, especially at this age where even his mother must recognize that his longing to have more freedom from her is normal and right (even if it's scary for her). That next day, "He did not ask for permission" to go to the "wild bay"; children ask permission and Jerry no longer wants to think of himself as a child. The safe beach is "a place where his mother might lie safe in the sun." He doesn't want to be with her all the time; he craves the danger and independence he has when he goes to his other beach. He wants to feel himself to be as adult as he perceives those older boys to be.

Kathryn Draney eNotes educator| Certified Educator
  • Jerry says that the beach is "not his beach" because it seems like a place for little kids, and he wants to differentiate himself as an older boy.