What is the exposition of the story "Through the Tunnel"?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The exposition of the short story “Through the Tunnel” is when Jerry and his mother arrive at the beach in a foreign country.

Exposition is the beginning of a story.  This is where the characters and setting are introduced.  This story is set in a country that is not England, at a beach.  The characters are a mother and her adolescent son.  Chances are he is her only son, because she is protective of him but worries that she is too overprotective.

Going to the shore on the first morning of the holiday, the young English boy stopped at a turning of the path and looked down at a wild and rocky bay, and then over to the crowded beach. (p. 1)

The country is not specified, but we know that Jerry is English and the boys he runs into are surprised.  They are foreign.  Therefore, the country is not England.  It is also the first day of a holiday.  He has been to the beach before, and he knows it well.

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The exposition of "Through the Tunnel" is the early part of the narrative that introduces the setting and background information; it is also an introduction to the characters, at least some of them.

Here is what the reader learns in the exposition of Doris Lessing's short story:

  • A young English boy named Jerry is on vacation with his mother. As he follows his mother to the beach, he frowns and turns toward "the wild bay" and back again to his mother.
  • That Jerry is introduced as "English" suggests that he and his mother are in a foreign country. Still, this beach is one that Jerry and his mother have frequented for many years.
  • His mother wears an anxious smile. Nonetheless, she asks Jerry, "...would you rather not come with me?" Jerry denies wanting to do so, but as he runs behind her, he looks over his shoulder at the bay.

As the beginning of the plot sequence of "Through the Tunnel," the exposition introduces the dynamic between the characters of Jerry and his mother. The mother worries that she is too possessive of Jerry because she is a widow, so she asks Jerry if he wants to go on his own to the other bay at which he looks. Jerry feels somewhat guilty about wishing to leave his mother alone on the beach; however, he really does want to explore the wild bay.

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