Through the Tunnel Questions and Answers
by Doris Lessing

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What can be inferred about survival traits in "Through the Tunnel"?

In the short story "Through the Tunnel," it could be inferred that Jerry survives his underwater adventure because he is determined and daring. Jerry increases his chance of survival because of his determination to practice holding his breath, and his boldness pushes him on. Jerry also seems to have ultimately survived not because of anything he did but because chance or fate pushed him to the surface.

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When you infer, you form a conclusion from implicit reasoning and evidence rather than from something explicitly said or done. For example, “Through the Tunnel” is not explicitly about survival. At least, it’s not about survival in the way some people might think of survival. In many instances, someone survives something that has been imposed upon them. They have to survive something that has been done to them against their wishes or without their consent. Someone survives an assault, a war, a prison sentence, or something they did not choose or want to happen.

No one forces Jerry to swim through the tunnel. Jerry wants to swim through the hole. He makes that choice. Jerry gets himself into this mess. Yet you could still claim Jerry’s decision forces him to develop or deploy certain traits that connect to survival. After all, Jerry’s underwater adventure could have killed him. Of course, Jerry survives.

Jerry’s determination and daring nature—mixed with a bit of chance—are traits that you could infer led to his survival. Jerry is determined to explore the hole. He has the tenacity or boldness to push himself to practice holding his breath. Lastly, when he feels like he’s “dying,” he’s fortunate to come to the surface.

Regardless of the situation, I think it’d be safe to say that determination, boldness, and chance are a big part of survival.

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