What are the internal and external conflicts Jerry faces in "Through the Tunnel"? 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Unerscoring the sense of conflict in "Through the Tunnel" is Lessing's use of imagery and figures of speech which create danger in the wild bay where Jerry experiences both internal and external struggles. Away from this is the safe bay where his mother sits "under an umbrella that looked like a slice of orange peel."

  • External Conflicts

The wild bay is filled with a "loose scatter of rocks." There Jerry comes upon some older boys who shout cheerful greetings at him, but while Jerry feels accepted at first, his uncomprehension of French marks him as a foreigner. Later, his clownish attempts to get their attention draws disapproval. Thus Jerry experiences twoexternal conflicts with them. Against the disapproval of his behavior as childish, he seeks to resolve by swimming through the tunnel as they are able to do.

After he returns to the safe bay where the sight of his mother has relieved his inner conflict of worry, he asks his mother for goggles in a pestering manner, indicative of another external conflict:

He nagged and pestered until she went with him to a shop....

Again, with his mother he comes into conflict (external) when she warns him about straining himself and causing bloody noses.

  • Inner Conflicts

But, Jerry's greatest conflict is his inner one in which he 

...knew he must find his way through that cave, or hole, or tunnel, and out the other side.

This inner conflict of Jerry's is resolved after the climax of the story when he is able to swim through the tunnel despite his external conflicts with oxygen loss and the length of the tunnel. 

He struggled on in the darkness between lapses into unconsciousness.

Successfully making it to the surface, Jerry has complete his rite of passage, resolving all conflicts as it is "no longer of importance to go to the bay.

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soccergoalie | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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Internal conflicts is " he swam back to shore, relieved at being sure she was there, but all at once very lonely" -through the tunnel

(needs to belong)

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