Through the Tunnel Questions and Answers
by Doris Lessing

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What physical challenges does Jerry face in Doris Lessing's short story "Through the Tunnel"?

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Rather than go to the beach where he and his mother usually go, Jerry is drawn to a different rocky location. Even to reach that bay, he has to climb over sharp rocks that scrape his feet. Looking down into the dark water, he thinks the rocks look like monsters. The physical challenges are coupled with his fear and anxiety. As Jerry watches the other boys, at first he misunderstands their antics. Once he realizes that they are swimming through an underwater passage, he determines to do the same.

Far more than scratching his feet on the rocks or avoiding the rocks when he dives in, Jerry's physical energies must be directed toward coordinating his breath with his swimming motions. Much of the preparation involves increasing his stamina in regard to breath; he practices by holding his breath for longer periods and then tries it again underwater. Protecting his eyes is also necessary, so he gets his mother to buy him goggles.

One of the most difficult aspects, however, is the discipline of...

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