Through the Tunnel Questions and Answers
by Doris Lessing

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What is Jerry's class background in "Through the Tunnel"?

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In the short story "Through the Tunnel" by Doris Lessing, an 11-year-old English boy named Jerry is on holiday with his mother at a beach area in an unspecified location. Instead of going to the crowded beach where most people go, he decides to swim alone in a rocky bay. There he meets a group of local boys who adventurously dive into the water and swim through a tunnel in a large rock. The local boys leave, but Jerry continues to practice holding his breath and swimming until he too, at great personal danger, manages to swim through the tunnel. For him it is sort of a rite of passage.

Jerry's class background is not specified in the story, but we can deduce from Lessing's descriptions that he and his mother are from an upper-middle class or upper class background. Jerry's mother is a widow, and yet they are staying in a villa by the beach. This means that they either own it or can afford to rent it. This villa is also in a country where the local people speak a language other than English, making it even more expensive to go there.

Another indication of their upper-class status is the way that Jerry's mother is so solicitous of his every desire. She appears to be incapable of refusing him any request. When he asks for the goggles, she immediately complies. Additionally, they are excessively polite with each other, as if it is a habit backed by tradition.

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