Through the Tunnel by Doris Lessing

Last Updated: 18 Apr 2023
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Conflicts can arise in many ways. In the story “Through the Tunnel” by Doris Lessing, an eleven year old boy named Jerry is vacationing at the shore in France. Feeling lonely and bored he wanders off to a rocky beach to join a group of French boys, older than he, who are diving and swimming there. As a foreigner he finds himself ignored by them, but discovers they are swimming through a long underwater tunnel and he is determined that he will do the same someday. In the beginning of the story an external conflict appears when Jerry wants to be independent of his mother she is understandably protective of her only child.

His mother wants to take care of him because she is concerned that something might happen. Jerry loves his mother and likes to be with her, but sometimes he wants to be on his own. To assert his independence from his mother Jerry must swim through the underwater tunnel to test him. Another conflict arises when Jerry wants to fit in with the French boys. The author explains how much Jerry wants to be part of their group when the author writes “To be with them, of them, was a craving that filled his whole body. ” Jerry wants to be accepted into their group.

This group of boy is the experts of swimming. They easily swim through the underwater tunnel. Even after he knows he doesn’t belong to the older boys group, Jerry still wants to prove himself worthy of being one of the expert swimming through the mysterious tunnel. Finally, the most obvious external conflict is the one between Jerry and nature. Jerry trains his lungs and pushes his limits and because of that “his nose bleeds badly”. For hours he has been practicing holding his breath he begins to feel weak and dizzy.

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Jerry has to battle the forces of nature pushing his lung capacity to its limits. He is engaged in a conflict of nature and physical barriers to attain his goal. If Jerry doesn’t hold his breath long enough he will drown. After what seems like ages, Jerry passes through the tunnel, going in as a little boy and coming out feeling like a man. Now, Jerry has won his battle against almighty nature his hunger for acceptance and fight for independence. He has broken the chains of his conflicts. As soon as he swims out, Jerry broke free.

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Through the Tunnel by Doris Lessing. (2017, May 08). Retrieved from

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