Through the Tunnel Questions and Answers
by Doris Lessing

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What are some examples of word choice that convey the setting in Doris Lessing's short story "Through the Tunnel"?

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On the surface, one might assume that this is a story about a young boy's beach vacation with his mother as he is on the cusp of manhood. But Lessing quickly draws a distinction between the "wild bay" and the "safe beach" described at the end of the first paragraph. When Jerry gets to go to the "wild bay" without his mother, the narrator describes how he must run "sliding and scraping" over the "rough, sharp rock[s]" leading to the water. The surface of the water shows "stains of purple and darker blue" (which sound like bruises) and in the water itself, "rocks lay like discolored monsters." These descriptions help to convey the setting of Jerry's underwater exploits in the wild bay and the negative—even dangerous—connotations of the words used also convey the mood of the story as well.

The "safe beach," however, seems so innocent and childish. Jerry looks back from his bay at his mother: "There she was, a speck of yellow under an umbrella that looked like a slice of orange peel."...

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