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In Doris Lessing's "Through the Tunnel" the conflicting forces of the authority of Jerry's mother and her son's freedom move the plot throughout the story. However, after Jerry practices holding his breath and finally succeeds in swimming through the underwater tunnel he completes his rite of passage and feels the equal of the older boys who have shunned him earlier. Consequently,
[H]e did not want them. He wanted nothing but to get back home and lie down.
When Jerry returns home, he is simply ready to rest after his exhausting venture. But, he does want to inform his mother of his accomplishment; and, when she urges him to not overdo his swimming challenges, she
was ready for a battle of wills, but he gave in at once. It was no longer of the least importance to go to the bay.
Jerry no long has anything to prove because he knows that he is capable of doing whatever the older boys do, and he feels he has matured now and is no longer a young boy. Therefore, he acquiesces to his mother's wishes which do not carry the importance he once attached to them.
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