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"Through the Tunnel" by Doris Lessing Short Story Analysis

Summary:

The main crisis and situation of this story was when Jerry decides he wants to be able to swim through the tunnel with the other boys, but he doesn't know if he can make it. After he shows the boys he has the guts to jump off the rock, he wants to prove that he is man enough to swim through the tunnel in the rock. Although, the boys cannot actually communicate with Jerry, he has a sort of mind set that he needs to accomplish this feat in order to maintain his pride. Jerry knew  at first, that he would not be able to swim throughout the tunnel without taking a breath of air, so he did exercises that resolved his problem. Jerry convinced his mother to buy him goggles, which he needed to see where the tunnel begins. On the day before Jerry and his mother were leaving for home, Jerry decided that it was the time to show what he was made of, and swim through the tunnel. He prepared himself, and dived. At first he felt like  an "inflated balloon", he could hold his breath forever, but as the tunnel became darker and eerie, he started to panic and lose his control. Jerry kept swimming and counting the seconds, until he came to a point with a darkness up ahead and no more oxygen left in his system. He thought he was going to die. Finally, Jerry saw a light in the distance, and he swam to the surface. Although his nose was bleeding, and he was in extreme pain, Jerry has proved to himself what he was capable of.

This story is told in third person perspective, from the narrator's point of view. The reader read only Jerry and his mother's thoughts and feelings.

The conflicts in this story were (person vs. self), (person vs. person), and (person vs. nature). Jerry had to converse with himself, about his own capabilities. Jerry also interacted with people, when he tried to prove to the boys how tough he is. Jerry competed against nature, when he came up for breath after going through the tunnel, and had to fight against the current.

Character Development:

Jerry went through quite a few character adjustments. He went from not being able to hold his breath for a length of time, to holding it for two to three minutes straight. He also went from the safe, busy beach with his mother, to the risky rocky bay with the native boys. The most significant however, was the obvious change of character from this boy to a young man. The writer used indirect charecterization to describe the characters, because you could read only Jerry and his mother's thoughts.

Themes:

Pride: Because of Jerry's pride, he pushed himself to be able to dive off the rock and swim through the tunnel with the bigger boys. "He felt he was accepted and he dived again, carefully, proud of himself".

Will to survive: Jerry felt like he wasn't going to make it during the last stretch of the tunnel, but he just kept pushing and finally, he resurfaced. "He struggled on in the darkness between lapses into unconsciousness".

Courage: Jerry had the courage to swim through the tunnel, even though there was a doubt in his mind that he wouldn't be able to make it. "Next summer, perhaps, when he had another years growth in him then he would go through the hole".

Questions:

Summarize the story.
What point of view was the story told from?
Did the writer use direct or indirect characterization?
What is the conflict?
What is the resolution?
What are the themes of the story?
Is the setting and time period important in this story? If so, how come?
Subpages (1): To Build a Fire Sequel
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