Through the Tunnel Questions and Answers
by Doris Lessing

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Through The Tunnel Theme

What are the themes of "Through the Tunnel"?

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One theme of Doris Lessing's short story, "Through the Tunnel," is that growing up is a difficult and sometimes painful process. We see Jerry mature throughout the story, at first nagging and pestering his mother for goggles and later being able to delay gratification for the things he wants. He practices holding his breath with very adult diligence, he stops asking permission to go to his "wild bay," and, the narrator says,

A curious, most unchildlike persistence, a controlled impatience, made him wait. 

Although he believes it is likely that he could make it through the tunnel on this day, Jerry waits. He can now wait to gratify his wishes, something associated with emotional maturity. However, after he successfully swims through the tunnel the next morning, his feelings have changed. He could see the boys he so wanted to impress earlier in the week, the boys who seemed like men to him, but now,

He did not want them. He wanted nothing but to get back home and lie down.

He has endured several bloody noses, and now he has a banged up head. In fact, Jerry nearly died in the tunnel and felt certain that his eyeballs had burst when he finally reached the water's surface. In the end, his mother tells him not to swim anymore today, and though "she was ready for a battle of wills . . . he gave in at once."

We see then that Jerry has, in fact, matured as a result of his experiences, and that they are symbolic of a child's transition to adulthood.  It is an arduous and taxing process, one that is difficult for both parent and child. 

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There are at least three themes in "Through...

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Further Reading:

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fzil | Student

1) Setting a personal goal can challege a persons mind to see how much they can do

2) Everyone grows up and it's hard

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