Who is Tembu in "The Tiger in the Tunnel"?

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Tembu is a twelve-year-old child whose emotions are at the core of "The Tiger in the Tunnel." Tembu is the son of Baldeo, a hardworking and brave man who works a night shift at the railroad to supplement his meager income.

When he is free from his duties...

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Tembu is a twelve-year-old child whose emotions are at the core of "The Tiger in the Tunnel." Tembu is the son of Baldeo, a hardworking and brave man who works a night shift at the railroad to supplement his meager income.

When he is free from his duties at home, Tembu follows his father to the railroad and stays with him during his shift, sleeping with him in a nearby hut. Unfortunately, during one of their night shifts together, Baldeo leaves the hut to check on some equipment and is attacked by a tiger. Sadly, the tiger kills Baldeo, but not before he is able to wound the tiger, causing it to be hit by an oncoming train.

Many people are understandably astonished and excited by this incident, not knowing how the tiger came to be lodged under the train. However, for Tembu, this is a day of extreme stress and pain. Bond writes:

Tembu and his sister and mother were plunged in grief for two whole days; but life had to go on, and a living had to be made, and all the responsibility now fell on Tembu.

In other words, Tembu has now become the head of the family and is expected to provide not only for himself, but also for his mother and sister—quite a task for a boy who is only twelve.

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