Through the Tunnel Questions and Answers
by Doris Lessing

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Through The Tunnel Summary

What is the plot summary of "Through the Tunnel"?

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The story begins on the first day of the holiday of a young English boy and his mother in an undisclosed location, but probably either in France or North Africa. As they walk down to the "safe" beach where they always go, Jerry looks longingly at a more "wild" beach where he would like to play. However, because he does not want to upset his mother, who is a widow and has worked hard to try to raise Jerry by herself, he goes with her. The next morning however, he asks to go down to the wild, rocky beach and is given permission. The mother goes away to her beach worrying about whether she is being a good parent and getting the balance right between protectiveness and independence.

When Jerry arrives at the wild beach, he goes for a swim and is able to see his mother on her beach from afar. He notices some local boys on a promontory above him and they wave at each other. They dive in to the sea in turn and Jerry is impressed by them. Eventually, the boys dive and do not come up for a long time, until they emerge from the other side of a dark rock and breathing deeply. Jerry dives down to see what is there and finds a big black wall of rock and understands that the boys have swum through some hole in it to the other side. The boys take 160 seconds to go through the rock and the boys go away, leaving jerry experiencing failure and crying.

Jerry asks his mother for some goggles and determines to repeat the feat of the boys. He finds the hole and then begins practising holding his breath, making his nose bleed and exhausting himself. Jerry determines to go "through the tunnel" the day before they leave holiday and continues exercising his lungs. On the last day he attempts his feat and although it is hard, he manages it. He returns home, exhausted and having suffered a massive nose bleed. The mother notices that he looks somewhat "strained" but determines not to worry. As Jerry announces how long he can stay underwater, the mother tells him not to overdo it and is ready for a "battle of wills" but Jerry gives in, finding it not important to go to his wild beach now that he has gone through the tunnel.

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