By Michael Alpers
It’s hard to overcome a fear. In the short story “Through The Tunnel”, by Doris Lessing, Jerry must mature to find the courage to get through an under water tunnel. Lessing says, “First, he thought, he must learn to control his breathing.” This shows how Jerry must use effort and show restraint before just jumping straight into this feat. He must learn how to swim before he can swim. He must also be persistent in his training and never give up no matter how hard it is. Lessing tells us that “A curious, most un childlike persistence, a controlled impatience, made him wait.” He is growing up and has learned persistence and the ability to stick with something even though it is hard. And finally he must set a final goal for himself, something that he can work towards that will drive him to get there. Lessing also states “Jerry swam out to the big barrier rock, adjusted the goggles, and dived.” This is Jerry’s first big leap towards his goal. The first step is getting to where he needs to be before he can complete his goal and diving into the rocky waters was that first step Jerry needed to assure himself that he can do this.
Jerry is at the rocky beach training to swim through the long tunnel. His mother had said that they will be there for only a few more days. He is getting close to being able to swim through the tunnel but he is still scared that he won’t be able to.
“He was trembling with fear that he would not go; and he was trembling with horror at that long, long tunnel under the rock, under the sea. Even in the open sunlight, the barrier rock seemed very wide and very heavy; tons of rock pressed down on where he would go.”
In this moment Jerry was scared of two things. He was scared that he would not be able to attempt to go through the tunnel and he was scared of the tunnel itself. This is a maturing moment for him as he has to decide if he is going to do it or not. He has reconciled what it entails and must overcome his fear and have the courage to complete this frightful task. And Lessing finally said “He did not ask for permission, on the following day, to go to his beach. He went, before his mother could consider the complicated rights and wrongs of the matter.” This shows that Jerry has fully matured. He has gotten to the point of being his own man.
Jerry came into this story as a young boy wanting to play in the rocky beach. However, he came out of this vacation a man after conquering a daring feat and maturing to the point of overcoming a massive fear.