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Notes for Doris Lessing’s “Through the Tunnel” The tunnel is a symbol for transition – in this case from child to more mature child. Jerry is a dynamic character. His internal conflict between loyalty to his mother and independence from her is resolved when he proves to himself that he can, without her help or approval from her or the native boys, move through the tunnel – for himself. One major theme in the story is about growing up. A child’s movement from one level of maturity to another is often marked by an event or experience. The setting is significant because it portrays the protagonist’s internal conflict in an external way. Beach = safety, mom, young child Bay = independence, risk The native boys serve as literary foils to Jerry’s mom and Jerry himself. Their experience and inhabitations highlight innocence and lack of experience. They also serve as an external motivator for Jerry’s dynamism.
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