Through the Tunnel


Doris Lessing

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Through the Tunnel makes teaching easy.
Themes and Colors
Childhood and Maturity Theme Icon
Solitude vs. Community Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Through the Tunnel, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Childhood and Maturity

“Through the Tunnel” is the story of Jerry, a young boy who is training to make a physical passage through an underwater tunnel, but it is also a story about a boy preparing (unbeknown to him) to make the passage from childhood into young adulthood. As the story opens, in the time before Jerry has attempted to swim beneath the rock and through the tunnel, he is still a boy. By the time…

read analysis of Childhood and Maturity

Solitude vs. Community

From the story’s first sentence, when Jerry’s attention is split between going to the crowded beach with his mother or to the rocky bay by himself, Lessing creates a sharp contrast between solitude and community. Throughout the story, Jerry seems to be privately weighing the burdens and benefits of being surrounded by others in a community against the difficulties—and, he discovers, the joys—of being alone.

Although Jerry decides to explore the isolated strip of…

read analysis of Solitude vs. Community


Aside from a few short passages that are set in the villa, this story takes place entirely outside at the seashore. More than acting as a mere backdrop for human action, though, the natural world has an integral relationship to Jerry’s psychological development within the narrative. The ocean, as Lessing describes it, is both beautiful and unforgiving, a site for tranquility and for risk-taking adventure. Lessing’s language lyrically captures both the scenery of the…

read analysis of Nature
Get the entire Through the Tunnel LitChart as a printable PDF.
Through the Tunnel PDF