Doris Lessing’s “Through the Tunnel”, a short story about growing up, shows that it can be a painful experience. Jerry’s desire to be independent is shown through his symbolism as he leaves the beach and enters the wild, rocky bay.
Jerry shows that he is independent by using the “safe” beach as a symbol and moving on. Jerry’s mother has “always been” to the “safe beaches” that Jerry visits. As Jerry walked with his mom to the “safe” beach, she noticed that he was looking at the wild bay behind them. Jerry responds by asking, “Aren’t you tired with the same old beach?” She then asks him to explore some “wild rocks”. She tries not to be overprotective. Jerry goes out into the ocean and sees her: “There was she, a yellow dot under an orange umbrella. The beach is characterized by the bright, sunny colors of orange and yellow. It’s a bright, safe place where Jerry goes when he feels uncertain.
Jerry is trying, though slowly, to separate himself from his mother. Jerry shows in the middle that he is independent by using symbolism to represent the “wild rock bay” as well as his struggle with his uncertainty. The “wild rock bay” looks like a dangerous place. Under the water, “rocks look like monsters discoloured” and “irregularly cold currents coming from deep water” are visible. The water is dangerous on this beach. The words “stains”, “monsters”, and the picture of purple or blue stains have a dark connotation. The rocky beaches and their dangers symbolize adulthood and transition. Jerry feels like he’s on his own as he’s no longer with his mother. She is just a “yellow spot” on a safe beach.
Jerry is surprised to find older boys diving and swimming through the tunnel, which is under water for an extended period of time. They are disappointed when they discover that he will not be able to swim through this hollowed-out rock. Jerry returns home to get a set of goggles, in order to become like the “big boys”. It is clear that Jerry is now no longer protected from the outside and is becoming a “bigboy”.