From the very first sentence of the story, Jerry is presented with two separate paths, both literal and figurative: one leading to the crowded beach that he frequently visits with his mother and another leading to a rocky bay that seems much more open and wild than his usual routine. This forking of paths represents the split that Jerry experiences between childhood as he’s known it and a more independent maturity apart from his mother. When Jerry first visits the bay, he encounters the group of older boys who reveal that they can swim through an underwater tunnel, which in turn gives him the incentive to perform this feat for himself. All this takes place in the rocky bay, which thus comes to represent the emotional proving ground on which young people face the challenges that teach them self-sufficiency and self-confidence. By the end of the story, Jerry has lost his desire to return to the rocky bay, suggesting that he has proven himself to himself, and thus no longer seeks the approval of the older boys or the once-unfamiliar thrills of the rocky bay.
The Rocky Bay Quotes in Through the Tunnel
Going to the shore on the first morning of the vacation, the young English boy stopped at a turning of the path and looked down at a wild and rocky bay and then over to the crowded beach he knew so well from other years.
She was thinking, Of course he’s old enough to be safe without me. Have I been keeping him too close? He mustn’t feel he ought to be with me. I must be careful.
He ran straight into the water and began swimming. He was a good swimmer. He went out fast over the gleaming sand, over a middle region where rocks lay like discolored monsters under the surface, and then he was in the real sea—a warm sea where irregular cold currents from the deep water shocked his limbs.
When he was so far out that he could look back not only on the little bay but past the promontory that was between it and the big beach, he floated on the buoyant surface and looked for his mother. There she was, a speck of yellow under an umbrella that looked like a slice of orange peel. He swam back to shore, relieved at being sure she was there, but all at once very lonely.