The Importance of the Omniscient Point of View in Through the Tunnel

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The Importance of the Omniscient Point of View in Through the Tunnel

 

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...

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