Through the Tunnel by Doris Lessing

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Critical Overview

(Short Stories for Students)

Lessing published "Through the Tunnel" in her 1957 collection, The Habit of Loving. The collection received praise for both its political commitment and its often brutal honesty. Lessing has frequently been lauded for her feminist sensibility and political approach to subjects like apartheid, but she has consistently denied that she is a political or feminist writer. Resistant to categorization, she finds such labels limiting and has actively sought to diversify her identity as a writer, experimenting and expanding into other genres like science fiction and Jung-inspired "inner space fiction." Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer has praised Lessing's experimentation with form and plotlessness. Lessing's career has also been distinguished by her lifetime commitment to the short story. Whereas many successful writers turn solely to the more lucrative and more commonly respected form of the novel, Lessing has consistently excelled at both novels and short stories. Critics have often commented on the symbiotic relationship between her short stories and her novels.

"Through the Tunnel" has generally been identified as one of Lessing's African stories, and one of several she has written that allude to the racial tensions underlying tourism. The story has often been noted in relation to Lessing's many stories on female rites of passage into womanhood. While many of Lessing's stories and novels depict women entering adulthood, her concentration on young Jerry's rite of passage in "Through the Tunnel" is atypical and an interesting...

(The entire section is 358 words.)