Point of View Essay

In the short story "Through the tunnel", Doris Lessing
describes the adventure of Jerry, a young English boy trying to
swim through an underwater tunnel. Throughout the story, the
author uses the third person omniscient point of view to
describe the boy\'s surroundings and to show us both what he and
the other characters are thinking and what is happening around
them. By using this point of view, the author is able to
describe the setting of the story, give a detailed description
of the characters, and make the theme visible.

By using the third person omniscient point of view, the
narrator can give us a detailed and unbiased description of
his/her surroundings while still retaining part of the
character\'s view of reality. When the narrator says "It was a
wild-looking place, and there was no one there" we are given
the mother\'s view of the boy\'s beach, which in her opinion is"wild looking". This gives us a clear picture of the setting.

Additionally, the sentence "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" clearly describes the beach where the boy is
swimming and how it is seen by him. With the addition of words
like "discoloured monsters" and "real sea" we can tell what the
boy\'s feeling are toward his beach which he considers scary but
at the same time challenging.

By using the third person omniscient point of view, the
narrator is able to render the characters with information
related both from direct description and from the other
character\'s revelations. This way, the description remains
unbiased, but at the same time coherent with how the various
characters see it. For example, after the narrator tells us
that "He was an only child, eleven years old. She was a widow.

She was determined to be neither possessive nor lacking in
devotion.", we are able to understand why the boy is so
emotionally attached to his mother and, at the beginning,
unwilling to ask her for permission to go to his beach and,
later in the story, unwilling to let her know about his
adventure through the tunnel. This also explains why the
mother let him go without questions, even if she was very
worried about him. Also, when the narrator describes the
native boys as "big boys - men to Jerry", we realize that
although the boys might be only a little older than Jerry, he
considers them as men and he tries everything to become like
one of them, even going through the long, dark and dangerous
underwater tunnel. I believe that if the writer would have
used first person point of view, we would only perceive what
that single character is experiencing, thus giving us a limited
and one-sided view of the world.

In this story, the narrator gives us the important clues
that lead us to the theme by letting us know what the
characters think. For example, when the Jerry\'s mother says

"Of course he\'s old enough to be safe without me", we realize
that the boy is at a point in his life when he is ready to
discover the world by himself. In addition, when his mother
thinks "Have I been keeping him too close? He mustn\'t feel he
ought to be with me. I must be careful.", we realize that the
author implies that it is wrong to keep him close to her for
too long, and both these examples add to the notion that the
rite of passage must be undergone without the interference of
others. Obviously, this concept wouldn\'t have been clear
without the view of the mother. In addition, Jerry perceives
swimming through the underwater tunnel as something that men
(the other boys) must accomplish, and that specific action has
to be seen as "the rite of passage" in this story.

With the third person omniscient point of view, the
narrator is able to make the theme clearly visible to the
reader, which is that a rite of passage (swimming through the
tunnel) is something that must be experienced by oneself and

Jerry\'s mother decision to "let him go" symbolizes a detachment
from the family that must occur one day or another in
everybody\'s life.

In conclusion, it is necessary to use the third person
omniscient point of view because in this story, things must be
described in detail and without a biased perspective (how the
beach looked in Jerry\'s eyes), a lot of essential information
(what his mother thinks about letting Jerry go alone