Through the Tunnel

by

Doris Lessing

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Older boys Character Analysis

The only other people in the story are a group of local older boys that Jerry encounters during his first day exploring the rocky bay. They are bigger than Jerry, don’t speak English, and are very familiar with the features along the shore. Their initial act of swimming through the tunnel is what prompts Jerry to undertake the feat himself. By the end of the story, Jerry no longer seeks the affirmation or acceptance of this group of boys—suggesting that self-assurance relies not on proving oneself to others, but rather to oneself.

Older boys Quotes in Through the Tunnel

The Through the Tunnel quotes below are all either spoken by Older boys or refer to Older boys. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Childhood and Maturity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Through the Tunnel published in 1980.
Through the Tunnel Quotes

The English boy swam toward them but kept his distance at a stone’s throw. They were of that coast; all of them were burned smooth dark brown and speaking a language he did not understand. To be with them, of them, was a craving that filled his whole body.

Related Characters: Jerry, Older boys
Related Symbols: The Tunnel
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

Soon the biggest of the boys poised himself, shot down into the water, and did not come up. The others stood about, watching. Jerry, after waiting for the sleek brown head to appear, let out a yell of warning; they looked at him idly and turned their eyes back toward the water. After a long time, the boy came up on the other side of a big dark rock, letting the air out of his lungs in a sputtering gasp and a shout of triumph.

Related Characters: Jerry, Older boys
Related Symbols: The Tunnel
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

After a time, his heart quieted, his eyes cleared, and he sat up. He could see the local boys diving and playing half a mile away. He did not want them. He wanted nothing but to get back home and lie down.

Related Characters: Jerry, Older boys
Related Symbols: The Tunnel
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Through the Tunnel LitChart as a printable PDF.
Through the Tunnel PDF

Older boys Character Timeline in Through the Tunnel

The timeline below shows where the character Older boys appears in Through the Tunnel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Through the Tunnel
Childhood and Maturity Theme Icon
Solitude vs. Community Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...crowded beach. On his way back to the rocks, Jerry sees a group of local older boys who are diving and playing in the water. They motion for him to join them,... (full context)
Childhood and Maturity Theme Icon
Solitude vs. Community Theme Icon
As the older boys prepare to perform the feat again from the diving rock, Jerry is desperate for their... (full context)
Childhood and Maturity Theme Icon
Solitude vs. Community Theme Icon
...regains his ability to see and catches his breath, Jerry sees the group of local older boys playing down the shore, but he is no longer concerned with them. He only wants... (full context)