Through the Tunnel

by

Doris Lessing

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The Rocky Bay Symbol Analysis

The Rocky Bay Symbol Icon

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

The Through the Tunnel quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Rocky Bay. 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

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.

Related Characters: Jerry
Related Symbols: The Rocky Bay
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

Related Characters: Jerry, Mother
Related Symbols: The Rocky Bay
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

Related Characters: Jerry
Related Symbols: The Rocky Bay
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

Related Characters: Jerry, Mother
Related Symbols: The Rocky Bay
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Through the Tunnel LitChart as a printable PDF.
Through the Tunnel PDF

The Rocky Bay Symbol Timeline in Through the Tunnel

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Rocky Bay 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
Nature Theme Icon
...certain popular beach. On the stroll down to this beach, Jerry notices the “wild and rocky bay ” which is set apart from their usual area, down a separate fork in the... (full context)
Childhood and Maturity Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Jerry eyes move from his mother’s white arm, then to the rocky bay , then back to his mother. Noticing that he hasn’t stayed directly behind her on... (full context)
Childhood and Maturity Theme Icon
Solitude vs. Community Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...continue to walk toward the beach he announces that he wants to check out the rocky bay . Jerry’s mother, with some hesitancy at the thought that her son would spend the... (full context)
Childhood and Maturity Theme Icon
Solitude vs. Community Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...on to the beach, concerned as always about Jerry’s well-being, and he descends to the rocky bay once he sees that his mother makes it down the path to the beach. (full context)
Childhood and Maturity Theme Icon
Solitude vs. Community Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Already a strong swimmer, Jerry goes directly into the water of the rocky bay and drifts far enough out that he can see his mother in the distance, just... (full context)
Childhood and Maturity Theme Icon
...the old beach is no longer suitable to his needs and desires. He misses the rocky bay and his daily training regimen to get through the tunnel. (full context)
Childhood and Maturity Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Without asking for permission, the next day Jerry runs off to the rocky bay by himself. While he sets off on his routine, Jerry is surprised that he can... (full context)
Childhood and Maturity Theme Icon
...it, but it doesn’t matter because Jerry is no longer interested in going to the rocky bay . (full context)