Through the Tunnel

by Doris Lessing
Start Free Trial

What is Jerry's goal in the story "Through the Tunnel"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jerry's immediate goal is to be able to swim through the tunnel in the rock.  He finally has the nerve to separate from his mother and spend some time alone at the "wild bay" instead of the "safe beach."  At the bay, he encounters a group of local boys who...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Jerry's immediate goal is to be able to swim through the tunnel in the rock.  He finally has the nerve to separate from his mother and spend some time alone at the "wild bay" instead of the "safe beach."  At the bay, he encounters a group of local boys who dive and swim so surely; they are "big boys -- men to Jerry" and "To be with them, of them, was a craving that filled his whole body."  He so badly wants to feel as though he is their equal that when he realizes that they can swim through a tunnel in the rock, he resolves to be able to accomplish the same feat, and he spends the rest of his vacation practicing in order to be able to do it.

On a figurative level, however, what Jerry wants is to be an adult.  He seems to already feel that he is the man of his family because his mother is a widow, and he feels such responsibility and obligation to her.  He wants to fit in with the boys because he perceives them as men, and he wants to be one.  The maturity that Jerry shows as he practices helps to show that he is, in fact, growing up.  He isn't the childish person who accosted his mother for goggles; he has become someone who can control his impulses.  Despite the fact that he seems to revert somewhat at the end of the story, it is clear that Jerry has matured and will have no choice but to continue to do so.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team