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“Through the Tunnel” by Doris Lessing Essay

Alexander the Great was one of the most successful military commanders in history; by the time of his death, he had conquered most of the world known to the ancient Greeks. Alexander was one of the greatest generals of all time, noted for his brilliance as a tactician and troop leader and for the rapidity with which he could traverse great expanses of territory. His fame has endured the passing of centuries, and he will forever be lauded as the “greatest military genius of all times”. His achievements would never have been attained if he was not determined to pass all the obstacles presented before him. His unwavering determination brought him his achievements. Similarly but on a much smaller scale, Jerry, from “Through the Tunnel”, accomplished his own personal conquest though his unyielding determination. In “Through the Tunnel” by Doris Lessing, the author uses vivid details and elaborate diction to emphasis the determination of the protagonist, Jerry, in his endeavor to accomplish his personal goal despite the numerous obstacles.

A common obstacle met by every individual is the parental barrier; every parent, whether animal or human, shares the common attribute being protective of their young. Jerry, a callow youth, was on a vacation with his mother, a widow. Jerry’s mother has an impregnable instinct of protecting Jerry, which is implemented not only by her parental impulses but the loss of her husband. On the first day of the trip, the child already has an urge to dive into the salty waters of the ocean. All day “as he played on the salty beach… he was thinking of [the wild bay]” (Lessing 76) yet he restrained himself. The only reason why he was restraining himself from diving into the deep ocean was his conscience in going against his mother. While his mother was not a physically a barrier she was still nonetheless an obstacle for Jerry. Only due to his absolute determination was he able ignore his nagging conscience and pass the parental obstacle. His determination enabled him go out “fast over the gleaming sand [and] over a middle region where rocks lay like discolored monsters under the surface [into] the real sea- a warm sea where irregular cold currents from deep water soaked his limbs” (Lessing 78) that was consider dangerous to his mother.

One of the most common excuse quitters often use to defend themselves is that it is impossible to survive the arduous practice that is necessary to accomplish the certain task. The author of “Through the Tunnel” uses vivid details to emphasis the toilsome exercises Jerry had to consistently abide in order the hold his breathe long enough to attempt the tunnel. Every night “his nose bled badly” (Lessing 83) due to the reason that “for hours he had been underwater, learning to hold his breath” (Lessing 83) during the entire course of the day. In order to achieve his goal, Jerry had to endure the ordeal of practicing numerous times consistently. While most people would have given up upon the first sight of their own blood, Jerry still unwaveringly persistent with his practices. Jerry was able to continue when others would most likely have given up, because he had steadfast determination in accomplishing his goal. Without his unwavering determination, Jerry would not have been able to persistently practice holding his breathe, especially when his practices caused his nose to bled every night.

The final and most difficult hurdle of most goals is when facing the last chance to back out and give up. Jerry knew, despite the fact that he has already practiced for numerous times, that attempting to swim through the tunnel remains a very hazardous and risky task to try. Jerry knew failure to finish the tunnel may result in dire even fatal consequences. The boy’s most difficult obstacle was to make the final decision that he is truly going to attempt the swim and risk his life in trying to achieve his goal. Jerry knew “if he didn’t do it [then] he never would” (Lessing 83).

The moment Jerry needed to make the final choice was also the final chance for him to back out of the entire endeavor; it would have been impossible for him to quite in the middle of his trek through the “small rock-bound hole filled with yellowish-gray water” (Lessing 84). The force that kept him from wavering in his final decision of whether to attempt the dangerous task that was his goal was his determination. Due to his determination Jerry was able to take the final step and make the decision. Only when he made the final decision, hence passing the obstacle, did his success finally come into view.

There are numerous barricades in front each individual’s aspirations. In the short story, “Through the Tunnel” Jerry, the protagonist, had to overcome multiple barriers before attaining his goal of swimming through the deep tunnel. The main reason why Jerry was able to persistently complete his goal is his unwavering determination. Without his determination, Jerry would have failed to accomplish his goal. His determination remained his driving force through the entire story, aiding him in passing each obstacle. The author, Dorris Lessing, used strong diction and vivid details to describe how Jerry’s determination remains despite the arduous obstacles he had to endure in order to accomplish his goal of passing through the tunnel in the ocean to the reader. Doris Lessing conveys the meaningful message of determination may sometimes help one attain what may seem impossible otherwise.


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