In Through the Tunnel, what is a choice the author made that surprises the reader?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the choices that Lessing made in structuring her story that may surprise the reader comes at the very end of the tale, after Jerry has braved the tunnel successfully and come out alive. Having passed through the symbolic tunnel from childhood to adulthood, the reader may expect him to draw back even further from his mother and try and befriend the French boys he sees at the beginning of the tale, when he discovers the tunnel. Instead, Jerry actually feels no attraction to the wild bay or the French boys any more. Note what the text says in regard to this:

He could see the local boys diving and playing half a mile away. He did not want them. He wanted nothing but to get back home and lie down.

At the end of the story, his mother is ready for "a battle of wills," but is surprised when Jerry acquiesces so easily, because, for him, "It was no longer of the least importance to go to the bay." The reader could have assumed that Jerry's symbolic journey through the tunnel would result in greater independence and a greater strain on his relationship with his overprotective mother. However, Lessing seems to suggest that now Jerry has made that journey, he has done it and does not need to go back to the bay. He has "passed" this initiation test and is free to show his adulthood in different ways.  

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