Eng2di-07 Class notes on "The Tunnel" from Sightlines 10

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ENG2DI-07 Class notes on "The Tunnel" from Sightlines 10

  1. Who is telling the story (who is the narrator)? Kenton is telling the story. He is a 16 year old boy, who is broke and so has a job babysitting a 6 year old girl.

  1. What is his or her attitude toward the characters and events in the story?

Kenton is bored and says that he would rather be anywhere other than babysitting this little girl. Even when he is babysitting his cousin he can relate to this young boy and know the kinds of things that this boy will enjoy doing. He says, "When you have sixteen-year-old guy hands, there is no way to hold a nude Barbie without violating her personal space,"(p.370) which tells us that he is uncomfortable. As Kenton struggles to find Ib after she disappears while crawling through the culvert, he recovers a memory. He was also lured by the fairies when he was a child, and this insight allows him to bond with Ib in a way that he did not think was possible earlier. At the end of the story, Kenton has come to understand Ib, and he shows his support by pulling her up the hill as she "holds onto the back belt loops"(p.375) of his jeans. They emerge, both literally and figuratively "into the sunshine" which shows that they are safe and have left the threat of the fairies behind them.


For #3>Setting = time, place, social conditions (any and all rules and beliefs that have an impact on the behaviour of the main character); what is the conflict?

Setting: Time-Near present (recent past)based on the fact that Kenton talks about the poor economy and how jobs for teens are scarce.

Place-English speaking - probably Canada, on the west coast, based on the fact that the author is from Vancouver, and that he talks about being able to smell the beach

Social conditions-hard economic times (Kenton can't get the kind of job that he wants; high school students should have summer jobs; males and females play differently, and Kenton finds trying to play with a six-year-old girl to be challenging at the beginning of the story> Kenton sees himself as fundamentally different from Ib at the start of the story, but by the end he realizes that he and Ib have a lot in common (they both have almost been abducted by fairies).


Conflict: There are three main kinds of conflict.

  1. Self versus self.

  2. Self versus others.

  3. Self versus any outside force (environment) - this could be natural (a storm) or a rule/law, or a deadly outbreak of Ebola virus.

The conflict(s) that exist in "The Tunnel" are self vs. self: Kenton has to overcome his own fears of the tunnel (claustrophobia) and of losing Ib.

Self vs. Environment: the tunnel provides the means by which the fairies access the human world. Kenton and Ib have to be called back from this world with their proper names.


Question 2 How is the setting connected to the conflict? To the characters? Would the story change if the setting were changed?

The tunnel is key to the conflict, because if it did not exist as a portal to the fairy land, then there would be no final conflict. If the social setting was different - Kenton might not have had a job babysitting a young girl - and he would not have ended up finding the key experience that connects himself to Ib. The age and sex differences between Kenton and Ib are key because if they did not exist, then Kenton would not be forced to find something to occupy Ib that wouldn't drive him crazy - going on a walk together. The story would be different if the setting were changed, because if they did not go on a walk, they would not encounter the tunnel and the fairies.

Question 3 What are the major events or complications (the climax might be the revelation of a key piece of information - for instance, when the main character discloses that she is going to die) leading up to the climax of the story? Are these events logical and believable?

>Identify the climax of the story (the point at which the action is at its peak - if something happens after the event you choose which adds more suspense or emotional response, then it is NOT the climax!). Is there a denouement? What happens in it?

Trace the rising action to the climax of the story.

  1. Kenton can only find one summer job - babysitting a six-year-old girl - which makes him feel very uncomfortable because he thinks they have nothing in common.

  2. Kenton takes Ib "exploring" to an area - near the train tracks and to the culvert under the road - which he recalls from his own childhood.

  3. Kenton has a flashback to his own terrifying experience as a child when he climbed through the culvert that Ib wants to go into.

  4. Ib enters the tunnel and they race each other - she under the road, Kenton over the top - to the other side. When Kenton reaches the other side, he looks into the tunnel and Ib has disappeared. In a panic, Kenton calls for Ib several times and finally calls for her using her full name: Elizabeth. Kenton enters the tunnel to find her and only finds Wanda - Ib's doll.

  5. Once he gets through the tunnel, Ken finds Ib on the other side of the culvert. Ib tells Kenton what happened to her - she was taken by the fairies. Kenton realizes that using Ib's full name brought her back.


Climax: The climax occurs after Ib sings the song that the fairies sang to her which triggers Kenton's memory and he realizes that he and Ib have had a common experience: they were both desired by the fairies, and were both almost trapped by the fairies. Kenton realizes that full names (Elizabeth and Kenton) are what called each of them back from the spell the fairies had cast.


Denouement: Kenton and Ib move from the darkness into the sunshine together, and they no longer seem awkward with one another.


Ending - Is effective because it resolves the initial conflict between Ib and Kenton.

Is the dialogue convincing?

The dialogue is used to move the story along - say, after a flashback from Kenton's perspective. It seems to be reflecting a six year old's way of speaking - the author uses fragments a lot in Ib's speech. Kenton sometimes speaks like a parent as he is in this role in the story (as caregiver) - even though he is a sixteen year old and we would normally expect him to speak more colloquially.


Theme (or motif) of any work of art is the main unifying idea behind the plot. Examples of themes are: pride causing someone's downfall; love conquering all; heroic quest; revenge; the quest for spiritual redemption; man versus the elements or some other evil force (ALIENS!); finding true love; domestic confusion (comedy); law versus criminal>or any good versus evil theme.



"Beating the odds" could be considered a theme as both Ib and Kenton survive and escape the fairies, although their “rescue” is mostly good luck since each goes by a shorter “nickname” and is rescued by someone calling their true, full, name.

"Personal connection - or similarities despite age differences" could also be a theme, as during the story we see Kenton recover memories of his childhood and realize that he and Ib have a key life experience in common – that they have both been lured by the fairies, and both have also escaped this situation.


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