Through the Tunnel by Doris Lessing

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Why is the journey so dangerous?

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When Jerry sees the older boys swim through the tunnel in the rocky promontory at the beach, he has a burning desire to do it too. He wants to fit in with these older boys, who seem like men to eleven-year-old Jerry. This is a dangerous undertaking for many reasons. First, the tunnel is completely underwater, and it is composed of rock. Jerry will have to be able to hold his breath for a very long time—perhaps two minutes or more—and once he is inside the tunnel, there can be no turning around or backing out. Next, when Jerry first inspects the tunnel, with his new goggles on, he actually has to turn his shoulders sideways to get inside; who knows what kinds of maneuvering he will have to do in the tunnel? There is seaweed inside the hole as well, and it could be possible to get tangled if he does not know when and where it will be. Because of the rock, portions of the tunnel, at least, will be utterly black, and Jerry will have to swim blind, unable to see ahead of him. He could bump his head, he could run out of air, or he could become tangled in seaweed: there are myriad dangers.

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