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TARZAN OF THE APES has been summarized at the ERB SUMMARY PROJECT. The following is one reader's view of the themes, characters, and author's writing and is not a summary or synoposis of Edgar Rice Burroughs' most famous novel.

John "Bridge" Martin's article is an important piece which not only illustrates the depth of ERB's Tarzan as an enduring literary character, but suggests how new readers might gain greater insight when reading the novel for the first time.



John Martin

I've decided to tackle some ERB books, a chapter at a time, to see what I can find in the master's words, sentences and paragraphs.

This opening chapter starts Tarzan of the Apes, from ERB's chat with the drunk who spills the story to the point where John Clayton, increasingly concerned about pending mutiny on the Fuwalda, discovers his two revolvers and a small quantity of ammo are missing.

The date for these incidents is listed as 1888 and it's mentioned a couple of times that Clayton, Lord Greystoke, is in the service of the queen, who would be Victoria, pronouncer of the royal "we" from 1837 to 1901.

We are told that certain facts in the story are verified by a search of the dry official records of the British Colonial Office and the diary of a man long dead. The diary is described as having yellow, mildewed pages in paragraph four. Earlier, in paragraph three, ERB refers to a "musty manuscript" which likely is another way of referring to the diary, as no other "manuscripts" are referred to other THAN the diary.

The question that comes to mind is—how did the diary of Tarzan's father end up in a place where ERB's drinking companion could get hold of it? One would think Tarzan would have preserved the old document and kept it in the family. Or, maybed ERB's drinking companion WAS a Greystoke family member. Perhaps, as I read on, I may discover some clue as to the fate of the diary. If those on the list already know, or have ideas, they'd be welcome at any time.

Chapter II, The Savage Home

This chapter begins with the start of the mutiny on the Fuwalda ("...a shot rang out...") and ends with the Claytons' first, restless night in the treehouse John built after they were cast away by the mutineers.

When we read, we get visual pictures. For years, I've had the visual picture of the Greystoke cabin being located a short distance into the jungle with the ocean waves beating on the nearby beach. However, this time I must have paid more attention as I read, and realized the cabin was actually along the shore of a small, almost landlocked harbor with a "mirror-like surface."

In this chapter, we see the transformation of Lady Alice. In Chapter I, Out to Sea, she was the stalwart wife who reminded her husband of his duty to do what was right, as far as reporting the rumors of mutiny to the unfriendly Captain Billings. In this chapter, we see the start of her unfortunate breakdown: "Bravely had she faced the dangers of the mutiny; with heroic fortitude she had looked into the terrible future; but now that the horror of absolute solitude was upon them, her overwrought nerves gave way, and the reaction came."

The fear of the pending mutiny in Chapter I is replaced by the fear of the unknown in the jungle surrounding them. The reader sees more than they do: The reader is told that, "...behind them...other eyes watched—close set, wicked eyes, gleaming beneath shaggy brows." Then, a few pages later, John and Alice begin to sense the hidden dangers, seeing monkeys "...casting affrighted glances back over their shoulders...fleeing some terrible thing which lay concealed there."

Then, as night falls, they catch the momentary glance of a "...huge and grotesque mockery of man...."

Finally, they must endure the sniffing and clawing of the panther below their roost and, through the night, other noises, piercing screams, and stealthy movement of great bodies beneath them.

It's no wonder Lady Alice said, at one point, "Oh, I am afraid too." The reader is also afraid...afraid for them, and also, perhaps, for him or herself. And, if the reader lives in a wooded area and the book is read at night, perhaps a bit afraid to open the back door and step out.... Such is the imagery Mr. Burroughs creates.

Chapter III, Life and Death

Came the dawn...this chapter opens on the morning after the Claytons' first horrifying and restless night in the jungle, and ends with the "...piteous wailing of the tiny man-child" who would grow up as Tarzan of the Apes.

In between, we have life in their savage home. Clayton builds a cabin and adds many improvements. Although he built it log cabin-style, it would not have appeared as such, as he caked it outside with clay, to the thickness of four inches.

They start to become comfortable and accustomed to their home in the wilderness and that eventually leads to mistakes, as when Clayton is too far from his rifle when attacked by an ape. When Lady Alice grabs the gun and fires her first round ever to save her husband, she succeeds, but at a huge price. Her mind is affected and she actually believes she is back in London, safe from the perils of the wilderness. In a way, this is a blessing. So, while Clayton "suffered terribly" to see her in that state, "...there were times when he was almost glad, for her sake, that she could not understand." Their son was born the same night she shot the ape, and she was able to nurse the wee one for a year before passing away quietly in the night.

Mr. Burroughs sets the stage for Tarzan's future education, by mentioning the numerous books in the cabin (among their possessions the mutineers had left them), including the beginning reading books which the maturing Tarzan would eventually find so profitable.

The unique door lock is also put in place, giving the groundwork for the way the cabin was protected for so many years.

It is of note that, while we know the little son was named John, he is not so named in this chapter. It will be interesting to see in which chapter we first learn that his given name was the same as his father's.

But if any on the list already know, go ahead and tell us now!

Chapter IV, The Apes

The chapter is ushered in by the rage and rampage of Kerchak...and ends with Kala taking to the trees, cradling the young Greystoke child.

This is a chapter of utter, senseless violence, contrasted with deep sorrow and the instinct of a mother's love.

There is the violence wrought by Kerchak upon members of his own ape group, and the violent death of the "white ape," Lord Greystoke. There is the continuing sorrow of Lord Greystoke which consumes him so much that he is not aware of the approach of the apes, and the sorrow of Kala, who loses her little one as a result of Kerchak's temper tantrum. There is the instinctive mother love which reaches out to a child in a crib, a living, breathing, wailing man-thing, not exactly in appearance as her own, but close enough to arouse a mother's instinct to protect, preserve and nurture.

A Great Apes quiz. How many can you answer without looking in Chapter 4?

1. When, in this chapter, is Kerchak first referred to as a "king" in apeland?

2. Which is the only jungle animal that Kerchak fears?

3. Approximately how many family groups made up the tribe?

4. What was the approximate population of Kerchak's tribe? (has to be approximate, as it changes every time Kerchak goes on a rampage!!)?

5. Approximately how old was Kerchak at this time?

6. Approximately how old was Kala when she became Tarzan's mother?

Special passages:

As I read each chapter, I'll try to pick out a special passage that is either a key passage, or sums up the action, or is just plain extra good writing by ERB. I'll call these the "special passages."

Special passages for the first four chapters are:

I—I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me, or to any other.

II—"Hundreds of thousands of years ago our ancestors of the dim and distant past faced the same problems which we must face, possibly in these same primeval forests. That we are here today evidences their victory. What they did may we not do? And even better, for are we not armed with ages of superior knowledge, and have we not the means of protection, defense, and sustenance which science has given us, but of which they were totally ignorant? What they accomplished, Alice, with instruments and weapons of stone and bone, surely that may we accomplish also."—John Clayton

III—That night a little son was born in the tiny cabin beside the primeval forest, while a leopard screamed before the door, and the deep notes of a lion's roar sounded from beyond the ridge.

IV—As she took up the little live baby of Alice Clayton she dropped the dead body of her own into the empty cradle; for the wail of the living had answered the call of universal motherhood within her wild breast which the dead could not still....Then hunger closed the gap between them , and the son of an English lord and an English lady nursed at the breast of Kala, the great ape.

Chapter V, The White Ape

This chapter is packed with information on the early development of Tarzan's jungle skills. We know, in fact, that he IS Tarzan, because he is so called for the first time.

The chapter begins with the apes reacting sadly to the slow development of Kala's little waif but quickly switches gears to show the fruits of the rapid development of his homo sapien brain. By the end of the chapter, he is giving some thought to the idea of dropping a noose over the head of Sabor the lionness.

Yes, this chapter records the invention of Tarzan's grass rope—his first tool and one he was able to have readily at hand the rest of his career if, for no other reason, he could always weave a new one!

Tarzan becomes adept at swinging through the trees, discovers the differences in appearance between him and his furry friends and, at the roar of an attacking lionness, learns to swim. The rivalry between Tarzan and Kala's mate, Tublat, gets into full gear in this chapter, with Tarzan starting to harrass "Broken Nose" unmercifully, especially with his rope noose.

Tarzan is two years old at the start of this chapter and within a few pages has advanced to 10. His little ape friends grow bigger faster, but Tarzan grows brainier faster, and uses his wits to his advantage.

In one interesting section, Tarzan, after jumping in the water to escape the attacking Sabor, calls out to the ape tribe with two different calls: first, the call of distress, and second, a message of warning. The tribe responds, swinging through the trees, and Sabor is so intimidated she makes a retreat. This scene indicates a high degree of intelligence on the part of the apes, who come to the rescue of Tarzan in response to his cry.

I've often watched wildlife shows on TV and thought about the fact that, if the prey animals would only get organized and gang up, they could probably send the lions scurrying. Only one time did I see this actually happen, when I watched a segment where a group of water buffalo said "No way" to some attacking lions, and put up enough of a defense to where the lions retreated. Oh well...I guess if all the animals of prey did that, pretty soon Africa would be overrun with the things! Better to let nature's predators keep weeding out the sick, weak and old.

Chapter V Quiz:

What are the boundaries, in miles, of the territory regularly traversed by Kerchak's band of great apes?

Special passages:

(near start of chapter): As Tarzan grew he made more rapid strides, so that by the time he was ten years old he was an excellent climber, and on the ground could do many wonderful things which were beyond the powers of his little brothers and sisters.

(near the end of the chapter): That the huge, fierce brute loved this child of another race is beyond question, and he, too, gave to the great, hairy beast all the affection that would have belonged to his fair young mother had she lived.

Chapter VI, Jungle Battles

This chapter (which begins with the tribe wandering near the Tarzan's cabin, and ends with Kala recovering from her ordeal of nursing Tarzan back to health) is misnamed. There is only one battle: The life and death struggle between young Tarzan and Bolgani the gorilla.

I suppose it is possible that Burroughs named it Battles plural because of Tarzan's battle for life, following his battle with Bolgani. But it would seem that both are really part of one great battle.

This is the chapter in which Tarzan, still 10 years of age, not only discovers how to get inside the locked cabin, but also finds, and learns the use of, the hunting knife of his father.

That knife stands Tarzan in good stead just a few moments after leaving the cabin, and was to serve him in hundreds of ways throughout the years of adventure to come. This was the second weapon, or tool, that Tarzan added to his arsenal, along with the grass rope. And, indeed, these two weapons were to serve him more frequently in coming times then did his later additions.

Back in the day when Burroughs was writing this, most people probabaly assumed all gorillas roamed the jungle attacking and killing whatever they came across. Of course, now we know that such a beast might be more apt to avoid a confrontation with another creature, rather than to deliberately seek one out and lie in ambush! However, if properly antagonized, even a mild-mannered gorilla would be an insurmountable foe in a battle with a knifeless 10-year-old boy!

Why does Burroughs say Tarzan rolled to the ground "lifeless" at the end of the battle when he wasn't REALLY lifeless? Seems to me that some other writers, too, will use the term "lifeless" to temporarily startle the reader, before revealing that life does, indeed, still reside within the hero.

While Tarzan is in the cabin, looking at a picture book, ERB notes that Tarzan sees pictures of little monkeys but "...in all the book was none that resembled Kerchak, or Tublat, or Kala." Fans often note that the type of ape ERB describes don't seem to actually exist! Did ERB know that, even back then, and chuckle inwardly as he mentioned his tribe of great apes was nowhere to be found in that book? (or any other book, for that matter!).

Special passage:

In fact he met the brute midway in its charge, striking its huge body with his closed fists and as futilely as he had been a fly attacking an elephant. But in one hand he still clutched the knife he had found in the cabin of his father, and as the brute, striking and biting, closed upon him the boy accidentally turned the point toward the hairy breast. As it sank deep into the body of him the gorilla shrieked in pain and rage.

Chapter VII, The Light of Knowledge

This chapter starts with a whimper and ends with a roar. Ten-year-old Tarzan, still recovering from his battle with Bolgani, is called "the little sufferer" at the start of the chapter, but by the end he is giving out the jungle cry of victory after his conquest over Tublat.

Tarzan, though described as the little sufferer in the first few words of Chapter VII, has made a full recovery by the end of the sentence and is off on a quest to retrieve his new-found weapon, which he lost after he discovered its power in killing Bolgani. Tarzan finds the knife, rusty after a month in the jungle, but soon learns the secret of sharpening it, and makes a sheath for the weapon.

Tarzan returns to his parents' cabin, learns the secret of the lock, and begins the long, methodical process of learning that the "little bugs" on the pages can be used to represent various objects and thoughts.

We read ...his attention was soon riveted by the books which seemed to exert a strange and powerful influence over him, so that he could scarce attend to aught else for the lure of the wondrous puzzle which their purpose presented to him. As I read these words, it occurred to me that not only was ERB describing Tarzan's fascination with books, but he was also summing up, without knowing it, the influence his own books would have over many of the fans to follow, those who collect, read, discuss, preserve, promote and love his writings.

For the first time, the title character is referred to as "Tarzan of the apes," and by the end of the chapter, apes has earned a capital "A" and "Tarzan of the Apes" has become the name of our hero, to match the title of the book. Heretofore, he was mostly called just Tarzan, but in Chapter V he was given the title of 'Tarzan the man-child" and in Chapter VI "Tarzan, the young Lord Greystoke."

Tarzan spends two years learning to read and then, at the age of 12, discovers pencils in the cabin and learns their purpose. Finally, at age 13, the chapter climaxes with the first presentation of the Dum-Dum.

Here is a great fictional invention of ERB: The Dum-Dum, also known as the Dance of Death. Here we have organized apes, building earthen drums and picking out clubs with which to beat on them, carrying a slain foe to center of the arena, engaging in the ritualistic, yet wild, dancing, all the while attentive to the leadership of Kerchak. Burroughs fans love the Dum-Dum descriptions; however, some occasionally wish ERB had called it something else. How many hotel reservation clerks have had to stifle chuckles when people call up to book rooms for a "Dum-Dum"?

I know ERB can get a bit verbose at times, but I found myself getting tired reading one sentence. Where was the editor's pen on THIS one? I don't know if this is the longest sentence ERB ever wrote, but you can bet I'll be looking at future long-winded ones to see if they top this. Try speaking it outloud without stopping to draw a second breath:

"From this primitive function has arisen, unquestionably, all the forms and ceremonials of modern church and state, for through all the countless ages, back beyond the last, uttermost ramparts of a dawning humanity our fierce, hairy forebears danced out the rites of the Dum-Dum to the sound of their earthen drums, beneath the bright light of a tropical moon in the depth of a mighty jungle which stands unchanged to-day as it stood on that long forgotten night in the dim, unthinkable vistas of the long dead past when our first shaggy ancestor swung from a swaying bough and dropped lightly upon the soft turf of the first meeting place."

That's 110 (count 'em) words! I don't know if ERB got paid by the word for this story, but I know some of his later efforts were paid by the word. With such writing skills, no wonder ERB had a lot to put in the bank! It is a remarkable sentence: Remarkable for its length, and also for its audacious thought that this fictional ape ritual could be the forerunner of all of civilized man's ceremonies. I think the writer was suffering from a little egotism here!

The battle with Tublat comes at the climax of the Dum-Dum, when Tarzan's foster father goes mad over Tarzan's refusal to give up a tasty chunk of a vanquished foe's forearm. When Tarzan wins, we see, for the first time, him place his foot upon his dead enemy and give out the victory cry of the bull ape—although here it is not called that, but is referred to as "...the wild and terrible cry of his people."


If Tublat means "broken nose" (Chapter V), what was he called BEFORE he broke his nose? (No, the answer is not in the book. But one has to wonder.)

Special passage:

Squatting upon his haunches on the table top in the cabin his father had built—his smooth, brown, naked little body bent over the book which rested in his strong slender hands, and his great shock of long, black hair falling about his well-shaped head and bright, intelligent eyes—Tarzan of the apes, little primitive man, presented a picture filled, at once, with pathos and with promise—an allegorical figure of the primordial groping through the black night of ignorance toward the light of learning.

(Note: This sentence is pretty long, too. Eight-six words. But it's written better than the other sentence, cited earlier, and so its length doesn't quite strike on the way the other sentence does.)

Chapter VIII, The Tree-Top Hunter

This chapter is devoted primarily to Tarzan's first effort to stalk and kill Sabor. The effort is unsuccessful, as far as Sabor's demise is concerned, but is useful to the maturing jungle lord in learning his limitations, and how to overcome them.

After Tarzan kills his step-father, Tublat the ape, in the preceding chapter, the tribe of apes moves on, and Burroughs no doubt has great fun reporting that the apes searched for food such as cabbage-palm, gray plums, pisangs and scitamines.

Cabbage and plums are familiar terms, so the reader can conjure up some sort of image. But pisang is not found in the average U.S. dictionary of today (though it may have been in dictionary's of ERB's day). It takes an internet search to nail down the meaning of pisang, and ERB didn't have the internet to assist him, so there's no telling where he picked up the Malayan word for banana, or why he decided to use it in a book about Africa. Perhaps he did it just to force the reader to expand his mind!!!

Cabbage-palm is actually any of several palms, such as the assai, with edible, terminal buds, and gray plums are, duh, a variety of plums.

The word scitamine comes from India, where it describes the curcuma longa, a root-like plant which is a tumeric. It is externally grayish but internally of a deep, lively yellow or saffron color and has a slight aromatic smell and bitterish, slightly acrid taste. It's used for dye, medicine, condiment or chemical tests. The first and last uses were not required by the great apes, so more likely they enjoyed its condiment properties and may have benefited, unknowingly, from its medicinal qualities.

Having succeeded in slaying Tublat, Tarzan begins thinking seriously about killing a lionness. His reason is to use its hide as a kind of clothing, since he has noticed in the books in his father's cabin that his race wears this type of thing. He has no idea why man wears such things until he huddles with his tribe through a terrific wind and rain storm, described in vivid detail by ERB, and thinks how nice it would have been to have had something to wrap around himself. He is also feeling some pride at this point, that the books have revealed that all animals but man go naked. His quest might have been simpler if he had settled on the hide of, say, Bara the deer. But he sets his sights highly rather quickly.

Tarzan attempts to subdue Sabor with his lasso, and the plan succeeds only until Sabor rends the offending grass rope with her teeth. Tarzan taunts Sabor from the treetops for several hours, including a well-aimed throw with a squishy fruit, before getting bored and heading back to the ape tribe.

Special passage:

Then, suddenly, the jungle giants whipped back, lashing their mighty tops in angry and deafening protest. A vivid and blinding light flashed from the whirling, inky clouds above. The deep canonade of roaring thunder belched forth its fearsome challenge. The deluge came—all hell broke loose upon the jungle.




I greatly look forward to your breaking relatively new ground with Return of Tarzan. I have not reread that in years!


I'm looking forward to it too. However, I don't have a patent on this "one chapter at a time" idea so if you or anyone else wants to start reading RT -- or any other ERB book or series -- and share any comments with the list, I would happily read whatever you had to say. And, I would probably go ahead and read and report on them myself later but, hey, the more the merrier!


My own thoughts about Kulonga are somewhat mixed. The fact is that it would have been more understandable if Tarzan had killed him the instant he caught up with him as an act of passion. The way he went about stalking the man is kind of creepy.


Tarzan DOES have a kind of creepy mindset (it's part of his personality). We see this in the next chapter I'll review, which is called "The Fear-Phantom" (love that title!). In this chapter, Tarzan places Kulonga's headress atop a skull in a native hut. Now, wherever did he get THAT idea? Tarzan did a lot of creepy things. In another episode (can't recall if it's this book or some other) Tarzan throws a dead body into a native village. Then there's RT, in which Tarzan and the Waziri pick off the ivory bearers one by one while calling out in scarey voices: "Drop the ivory." Why did Tarzan have a creepy mindset? Well, if you grew up with the apes, maybe... Of course, if we get into ERB's mind, we will see that the stalking of Kulonga is also a literary device, to enable Tarzan to learn more of man's ways, such as the ability to start fires and use weapons. If Tarzan had simply killed Kulonga and then appropriated his weapons, he (a) would have had to learn to use them by trial and error and (b) I believe he would have made the fatal error of testing the point of the poisoned arrows with his fingertips -- the same instinct that causes us to touch wet paint to see if it's really wet.


Tarzan would have been aware from his books that humans consider apes to be animals and thus potential game, and besides, here was his very first actual human being. One would think that Tarzan would have forgotten all about Kala and ran to the fellow with open arms in the heat of the moment.


With all due respect, I think that if you rethink the above sentence you might think differently. Tarzan is incapable of forgetting all about Kala -- this was his mother, the only mother he knew; in fact, the only one who ever showed him any love in the jungle; he did, indeed, love her as a son. How could he simply throw that aside and run to embrace Kulonga?


Kulonga was a real ugly tatooed gangsta and the apeman sensed that the guy was a depraved cannibal, thus he had no problem killing Kulonga. I think that a sensitive person can sense things like that and judge a man's character from face value sometimes. Obviously in this instance.


The tattoos certainly didn't "help" Kulonga (what if, instead of Kulonga killing Kala, it had been a gorgeous blonde white hunter with a safari?). However, Kulonga was to be killed, tattoos or not. The philosophy behind this is explained in the next chapter: "All things outside his own tribe were his deadly enemies....And he realized all this without malice or hatred....And when he killed for revenge, or in self-defense, he did that also without hysteria, but it was a very businesslike proceeding which admitted of no levity." Notice the way he kills Kulonga in Chapter IX. After learning all he can about the man, he simply catches him with a noose about the neck, hauls him into a tree, and plunges a knife into his chest. Just as perfunctory as a modern day executioner pulling the switch. Tarzan does not take time to explain to Kulonga why he must die (even in a langauge which Kulonga could not understand), he does not slap him around a little first, he does not torture h! im to d eath -- just a simple knife thrust and his duty to his mother has been done. Then, it's on to other things.


Because remember in Greystoke when the cop shot Tarzan's beloved foster father, and Tarzan was bitterly grieved but he did not take vengeance because he was just an animal after all.


I think that another reason Tarzan did not take vengeance was because he was a little more civilized by that time, or at least able to understand the concept of law and able to restrain himself from his natural tendencies. It was also a poignant movie scene when, earlier, Kala had been killed and Tarzan cried unconsolably and kept grabbing her hand and using it to pat him on the head the way Kala used to do when she was alive, as if this act could somehow restore what once was. Not having seen the movie in awhile, I can't remember what Tarzan did after Kala was killed (in the movie). Maybe someone else can tell us that. Did he go after the local natives or something? We know, of course, what he did in the book.

Chapter IX, Man and Man

Up to this point, Tarzan has led a relatively sheltered life. No, not sheltered from Sabor, from Bolgani, or Mangani on a rampage, but sheltered, geographically, this chapter tells us, by high hills which shut it off on three sides, and the ocean which formed a barrier on the fourth. This geographical fence, in turn, provided a shelter for Tarzan from the presence of man, as ...the area traversed by his tribe was watered by no great river to bring down the savage natives of the interior. How big was this area? Chapter V tells us the great apes generally ranged over an area which ran 25 miles along the ocean and 50 miles inland. That equates to 1,250 square miles, or 800,000 acres, the approximate size of either Joshua Tree National Park in California, or the entire state of Rhode Island.

But, at the same time that Tarzan becomes a young man of 18, other men enter into his world—the remnants of a tribe, fleeing from a run-in with soldiers, intrudes into his world and makes a home along a small river. With man comes trouble. At first, the blacks fear to venture far into the hostile jungle. But, at last, Kulonga, son of the chief, does so and, coming upon Tarzan's foster mother, Kala, kills her with one of his poison-tipped arrows. The reader grieves with Tarzan as he weeps over his slain mother, the only creature in his world who ever had manifested love and affection for him, and then the reader accompanies Tarzan along his trail of vengeance as he tracks the killer.

Catching up to Kulonga is child's play for Tarzan, but he is wise enough to withhold his vengeance until he has learned all he can about this man. By the time Tarzan kills Kulonga, he has discovered the location of the village and has appropriated the black's knife, sheath and belt, his headdress, a copper anklet, and his bow and poisoned arrows. Nothing is said about whether Kulonga wore a loin cloth and whether Tarzan also may have taken that. We know he was interested in some kind of attire because of his earlier, unsuccessful efforts to rob Sabor of her coat. By watching Kulonga kill a couple of animals, Tarzan deduces that there is something deadly about the arrow tips other than their mere sharpness, so no doubt he avoided the natural impulse to test the sharpness with a fingertip, an act which would have resulted in his death.

In this chapter, Tarzan's knowledge of man increases rapidly, as he sees Kulonga make fire, cook food, use weapons, and live in villages.


When Tarzan first sees Kulonga draw back his bow, it forms a living picture of the scene Tarzan has seen in the children's book in his dead parents' cabin, with the caption: A stands for Archer. But wait! Back in Chapter VI, we are told the book read: A is for Archer. Did ERB (and his editor) forget the wording of three chapters earlier? No! I have it! There were a number of children's books in the cabin and, no doubt, there was one book with each version!

Special passage:

Quick was Sabor, the lioness, and quick were Numa and Sheeta, but Tarzan of the Apes was lightning.

More on weapons:

Kulonga had originally set out with a spear, as well, but it had been lost when he threw it at Kala. He barely grazed her, so had to finish her off with an arrow. But the approach of other apes kept him from retrieving his spear. So, at this point, Tarzan probably doesn't know that spears exist.

First contrast with "other Greystoke":

A few times in this volume, Burroughs gives us a contrast between the activities of Tarzan and the activities of the Greystoke title-holder in London. As Tarzan eats raw boar, the title-holder, Tarzan's uncle, the youngest brother of his father, is seen dining on chops, and sends them back to the chef because they are underdone.

Chapter X, The Fear-Phantom

Rule No. 1: If you are planning to build a primitive native village in the African jungle, and you want it free from constant harrassment by young ape-men, DO NOT build your village near large, overhanging trees.

Rule No. 2: Don't complain about what happens if you disobey Rule No. 1.

After disposing of Kulonga, the murderer of his ape mother, in the previous chapter, Tarzan sets out to investigate the native village to which Kulonga was headed. Tarzan noticed that, as if for his convenience, "...at one point the forest touched the village...."

That portion of the forest included an ideal observation post, "...a great tree, heavy laden with thick foliage and loaded with pendant loops of giant creepers. From this almost impenetrable bower above the village he crouched...."

Below him, he observed native life but, most captivating, directly below him was a woman who was dipping arrows in a pot of what seemed to be the very fluid that dealt death to those it touched.

When some natives discovered the body of Kulonga hanging in the tree where Tarzan had left it, the village emptied as everyone went to see the sight. Never one to miss an opportunity, Tarzan dropped into the village and explored a hut which, we learn later, just happened to be Kulonga's home. Inside, Tarzan saw spears on the wall although he didn't know what they were. He decided to steal one at a later date, as he intended to leave with his hands full of all the arrows he could carry. As he examined objects in the hut, he piled them in the center of the dwelling, finally placing a pot upsidedown atop the pile. He then added one of two skulls that were kicking around in the hut and then, with a spark of inspiration, he removed the headress he had taken from Kulonga and placed it atop the skull—a grinning, grisly joke that would bring horror, not laughter, to the returning villagers.

With the tribe coming back into the village, carrying the deceased Kulonga, Tarzan quickly made his escape after first grabbing some arrows and tipping over the pot of poison. The natives, including village chief Mbonga, Kulonga's father, were gripped to the core of their superstitious souls by the display that Tarzan had left behind. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship!

In this chapter we are told that Tarzan was not a sentimentalist, and had never had the opportunity to learn anything of the brotherhood of man. To him, all others, except those of Kerchak's tribe, were enemies. Tantor the elephant, alone, was the exception. In the previous chapter it was noted that he had made friends with Tantor: "How? Ask me not. But this is known to the denizens of the jungle, that on many moonlit nights Tarzan of the Apes and Tantor, the elephant, walked together, and where the way was clear Tarzan rode, perched high upon Tantor's mighty back."

It is a bit chilling to read that Tarzan "...joyed in killing, and that he killed with a joyous laugh upon his handsome lips betokened no innate cruelty. He killed for food most often, but, being a man, he sometimes killed for pleasure, a thing which no other animal does; for it has remained for man alone among all creatures to kill senselessly and wantonly for the mere pleasure of inflicting suffering and death."

I don't know if ERB owned a housecat but, if he did, he might have altered that statement slightly, as some animals apparently do kill for the heck of it. I had a black lab once who stomped a frog to death for no apparent reason; but, not being able to read the dog's mind, I should assume that he was afraid of the beast and did it to protect himself! Nonetheless, while some animals may kill for sport, it is certainly true that man is the only creature that sits up nights thinking up new and ingenious methods of doing in his fellow man and other creatures.

Special passage:

His savage life among the fierce wild brutes of the jungle left no opening for any thought that these could be aught else than enemies. Similarity of form led him into no erroneous conception of the welcome that would be accorded him should he be discovered by these, the first of his own kind he had ever seen.

Chapter XI, "King of the Apes"

Well before the book reaches its midpoint (pages 125-140 out of 392, chapter 11 out of 28) Tarzan becomes the king of his ape tribe. The one who, as a child in a cradle, was saved by Kala from Kerchak's deadly intentions, now grows up to vanquish that same Kerchak and take over his position as leader of the apes.

Kerchak, we are told in Chapter IV, was 20 years old when one-year-old Tarzan came into the tribe. Since Tarzan is 18 by Chapter XI, Kerchak must be 37. I don't know the lifespan that ERB imagined his apes to have, but Tarzan, for sure, was not beating up on an old man. The way ERB describes the battle, it could just as easily have been won by King Kerchak; Tarzan's muscles play a part in the battle (ERB describes him as six feet tall and "mighty muscled" with "great rolling sinews"), but it is his wits and his knife that give him the edge.

All along, Kerchak has been jealous of and annoyed by Tarzan, but he is given new reasons in this chapter, which is full of plenty of other adventures.

After bragging to the apes about his new weapons (and annoying Kerchak), Tarzan returns to his cabin and finds the metal box with his father's diary, written in script AND French! (a double challenge for the ape-man!), along with a photo of his father and a golden locket studded with diamonds. Tarzan likes the photo of the man who he doesn't know is his father. He puts everything back in the box except the locket, which he places around his neck.

Then, it's back to Mbonga's village for more arrows, and Tarzan sees the full depravity of this tribe as they bring in a captive to torture, kill and eat. Tarzan plays a grisly joke on the natives, stealing a skull from Kulonga's old hut and tossing it, from a tall tree, into their midst. Thereafter, they assume a god is visiting them and set out daily offerings for it.

On the way home, Tarzan encounters and kills Sabor and sleeps off his exhaustion, wrapped in Sabor's freshly skinned pelt, in the fork of a tree.

When he gets back to his ape tribe, it is his bragging about killing Sabor that pushes Kerchak beyond the limits of sanity and the ape's resultant rage triggers the battle that gives Tarzan the kingship of the apes.


1. While Tarzan is in the village hut, looking for the skull, a native woman comes in to rummage around for a cooking pot. Where did this primitive tribe get cooking pots? They may have had the ability to make clay pots, but if they had metal pots they no doubt got them in trades with other Africans. Did primitive cannibals cook in clay pots, or acquire metal pots, or did they just roast meat on a stick over the fire? How many cartoons have shown cannibals stewing missionaries in a big iron pot? Where did these cannibals get those pots?

2. When Tarzan sees the full skeletons in the cabin, he pays them no heed at all, nor does he disturb them, even on subsequent trips when he searches for other "stuff" in the cabin. When he enters Kulonga's hut (twice so far) and sees the skulls, he is immediately taken with the idea of moving them and using them as props for jokes, once fitting one of them with Kulonga's headress and once tossing a skull into a crowd of natives. What explains Tarzan's different treatment of the human remains?

Second comparison to other Greystoke:

The first comparison to the other Greystoke in London, the one holding the title that rightfully belongs to Tarzan, is in Chapter IX. The second follows Tarzan's victory cry after killing Sabor, and the fearful reaction of the other jungle denizens: "And in London another Lord Greystoke was speaking to his kind in the House of Lords, but none trembled at the sound of his soft voice."

Victory Cry of the Bull Ape:

So far, ERB hasn't used the term with which we usually refer to this. In Chapter VII it was "the wild and terrible cry of his people"; after killing Sabor it is "the awful challenge of the victorious bull ape" and after killing Kerchak it is "the fierce, wild cry of the conqueror." All different ways of referring to the same thing, but as we read we'll see how else it is referred to.

Ominous warning:

After his second visit to Mbonga's tribe, we are told: "But the seed of fear was deep sown, and had he but known it, Tarzan of the Apes had laid the foundation for much future misery for himself and his tribe."

Special passage:

Kerchak was dead.

Withdrawing the knife that had so often rendered him master of far mightier muscles than his own, Tarzan of the Apes placed his foot upon the neck of his vanquished enemy, and once again, loud through the forest rang the fierce, wild cry of the conqueror.

And thus came the young Lord Greystoke into the kingship of the Apes.

Chapter XII, Man's Reason

Tarzan won the kingship of the apes at the end of the last chapter, and he gives it up at the end of this chapter. However, he could win the title back at any time in the future so, in that sense, he will always be king of whatever apes he is around.

Tarzan does not lose his kingship; he abdicates, as a result of his reasoning process, the process that gives this chapter its title.

Once he is king, Tarzan quickly gains an enemy: Terkoz feared Tarzan's knife and arrows and, therefore, "...confined the manifestation of his objections to petty disobediences and irritating mannerisms." (We've all known people like this).

Man's Reason, exercised by Tarzan, leads the ape band to good spots for finding food and, when they raid the tribe of Mbonga's crops at night, he teaches the value of leaving, unmolested, any food they cannot eat.

Man's Reason also motivates Mbonga's tribe to seek a new village site, in a vain effort to escape the tormentor who comes and steals arrows and plays grisly jokes. Their search for a new village intrudes upon the apes' peaceful jungle and so the apes, too, must move on.

Tarzan tires of his duties as king of the apes. Man's Reason has shown him he is not an ape, and it is logical for him to seek out his own people.

The opportunity comes as a result of a battle with Terkoz. Tarzan loses his grip on his knife in the fight, but "...there was that which had raised him far above his fellows of the jungle—that little spark which spells the whole vast difference between man and brute—Reason." Tarzan's Reason brings him around to Terkoz's back, where he can avoid the beast's fangs; he accidently achieves, and then realizes the value of, a half-Nelson hold, and Reason shows him the advantage of doubling it to a full-Nelson.

Man's Reason then saves Terkoz's life, as Tarzan decides to give the beast a chance to surrender rather than to have his neck broken, thus preserving a valuable fighter for the tribe. So here we learn for the first time the ape word "Kagoda" which, depending on inflection and circumstance, can either mean "Do you surrrender?" or "I surrender"—the ape equivalent of our "Uncle."

Tarzan, having proven again his right to be king, then calls the male apes together and tells them they must choose another to rule "...for Tarzan will not return."

And back he goes toward his parents' cabin to continue his quest for knowledge of "His Own Kind," which happens to be the name of the next chapter.

Special passage:

As he had grown older, he found that he had grown away from his people. Their interests and his were far removed. They had not kept pace with him, nor could they understand aught of the many strange and wonderful dreams that passed through the active brain of their human king. So limited was their vocabulary that Tarzan could not even talk with them of the many new truths, and the great fields of thought that his reading had opened up before his longing eyes, or make known ambitions which stirred his soul.

Chapter XIII, His Own Kind

Throughout this story, Edgar Rice Burroughs has been shaping his hero into someone who will be appealing to Jane Porter. Tarzan has, for starters, some human intelligence, which serves him well in taking a few steps toward civilizing himself through the resources in the cabin of his parents, and his success in learning to communicate through writing. ERB gets Tarzan's ape mother out of the way to remove his last tie to the ape band. Though Tarzan grows up as an ape, Burroughs keeps him sexually pure from fiddling around with other apes or the primitive cannibal gals (we must assume all this, based on what we DO know, and Tarzan's character). Tarzan has learned to swim and, therefore, keeps fairly clean. Burroughs saves Tarzan from the unacceptable status of becoming a cannibal.

But when this chapter arrives, in which we meet Jane, Tarzan still has a couple of niceties to add: He must have some kind of covering to wear around his privates, and he must be clean-looking, as in "clean shaven." And so, those things happen in the first part of this chapter.

Without all of these things shaping Tarzan into what he is (the "Forest God" of Chapter XV) Jane would have been repulsed by the naked, bearded, ignorant, and possibly disease-ridden and filed-tooth creature she could have met in the jungle.

Her meeting with the handsome Tarzan, though, is still in the future, as Tarzan views Jane from the foliage during this chapter, but doesn't yet make the lady's acquaintance.

After leaving his ape tribe, Tarzan decides to make himself over as much as possible like other humans, and adorns himself with jewelry he has robbed from the only humans he knows, the cannibals. Before long, he kills another cannibal and is able to add a doeskin loincloth to his accoutrements. Later, fearing his budding facial growth is making him into an ape, Tarzan learns to shave with his hunting knife.

Tarzan observes a party of sailors ashore near his beloved cabin, and sees the first effects of a firearm when one of the sailors kills another, probably the leader. When the sailors go back to the ship, Tarzan is enraged to discovered his cabin has been ransacked. In his battle with Terkoz, he had acquired a rip that loosened his scalp from above his left eye to his right ear. For the first time, we see his anger rising to cause the resulting scar to "burn" as inflamed crimson.

Tarzan writes a warning sign for his cabin door. The sailors return with five people whom they intend to abandon. They are Professor Archimedes Q. Porter and his daughter Jane, Samuel T. Philander, William Cecil Clayton, and Jane's maid, Esmeralda, whom ERB cuts off without a last name.

Tarzan, from his hiding place, heaves a spear into the shoulder of seaman Snipes, who is about to shoot Clayton.

The absent-minded Professor Porter wanders off into the jungle with Mr. Philander in tow and soon Clayton, leaving Jane and Esmeralda with the protection of Snipes' pistol (dropped when Tarzan speared him), takes Tarzan's spear and sets off into the jungle to look for the two older men.

Jane and Esmeralda barricade themselves in the cabin, Jane keeping the stiff upper lip to comfort her maid, but inwardly extremely worried about the ultimate fate of the quintet.

Special passage:

His straight and perfect figure, muscled as the best of the ancient Roman gladiators must have been muscled, and yet with the soft and sinuous curves of a Greek god, told at a glance the wondrous combination of enormous strength with suppleness and speed.

A personification, was Tarzan of the Apes, of the primitive man, the hunter, the warrior.

With the noble poise of his handsome head upon those broad shoulders, and the fire of life and intelligence in those fine, clear eyes, he might readily have typified some demi-god of a wild and warlike bygone people of his ancient forest.



Reply to Korak:

Your explanation seems as logical to me as anything I've read on the subject.

Actually, I've read very little on the subject. I think there's been an article or two in ERBapa over the years.

Some of these major controversies, such as "Where does JTT fit into TA" and how could you (Korak) grow from a little baby to a lean, mean fighting machine in such a sort time, are beyond my areas of interest. Little controversies, fine; the big ones, I leave for the guys who like to stay up late at night poring over Burroughs volumes, geneaological charts, and obscure books such as "Fashion Trends Among Little-Known African Cannibal Communities."

Hey -- I'm one for simple explanations, such as yours. Here's another one: Since ERB didn't have space to tell us every single thing Tarzan did 'twist 12 and 20, he likely had another loin cloth at an earlier age (JTT) and wore it out, so had to go naked again until TA-13. Works for me!

Tarzan was unskilled at making his own clothes, as he appropriated Sabor's hide earlier and found out that it got stiff as a board after awhile (not to mention that it probably got rather smelly and had tse-tse flies buzzing around it!!). Tarzan was also unskilled at making his own arrows, which was why he had to keep looting them from the cannibals. As I read on in the Tarzan series, it will be interesting to see if ERB ever tells of him making his own.

Chapter XIV, At the Mercy of the Jungle

Those who are "at the mercy of the jungle" are the five castaways abandoned by the mutineers of the Arrow. Jane and Esmeralda are the best off, with the protection of the cabin built by Tarzan's father, but Professor Porter and Mr. Philander wandered off in the last chapter and they continue to roam, off stage, throughout this chapter, facing unknown terrors. William Clayton, meanwhile, is off in another direction, looking for the two men, and we see his terrors first-hand through the watchful eyes of Tarzan.

In truth, the jungle has no mercy, and would have had none on any of these. Fortunately, Tarzan of the Apes has quickly developed a liking for these five which, while Tarzan would not know the definition of mercy, nonetheless motivates him to act in such a way that it serves the same purpose.

"...somehow, intuitively he liked the young man and the two old men, and for the girl he had a strange longing which he scarcely understood. As for the big black woman, she was evidently connected in some way to the girl, and so he liked her, also."

Clayton is first stalked by Sheeta, whom Tarzan, unseen to Clayton, drives away with "the awful cry of the challenging ape." Numa then decides to lunch on Clayton, but is not as easily handled. Tarzan must first shoot a poisoned arrow into Numa and then drop on his back and knife him to death. We read here something of the strength of Tarzan: "With lightning speed an arm that was banded layers of iron muscle encircled the huge neck, and the great beast was raised from behind, roaring and pawing the air—raised as easily as Clayton would have lifted a pet dog."

With this act, Tarzan not only saves Clayton, but also reveals his presence. Tarzan next offers to share some of the lion's meat with Clayton, who declines.

Clayton at first believes that this is the "Tarzan of the Apes" who wrote the warning note on the cabin, but gives up that idea when he realizes that Tarzan cannot speak English. Ape talk didn't sound very "pretty"; ERB writes that Tarzan's "...replies, now vocal, were in a strange tongue, which resembled the chattering of monkeys mingled with the growling of some wild beast."

Tarzan begins leading Clayton back in the proper direction toward the cabin and, meanwhile, back at the cabin...

Jane and Esmeralda are terrorized by a lioness which seeks entry to the cabin in order to devour them. Esmeralda takes the easy way out, by fainting. Jane finally remembers the pistol Clayton left her, and lets the lioness, who has managed to stick its head and one paw through the window, have it point blank. Then, she faints too. However, the lioness is only wounded and finally tries again, getting both front legs inside the little window.

Then, we have the first full-fledged cliffhanger chapter ending in the Tarzan series, as we read:

"A moment more and both shoulders through, the long, sinuous body and the narrow hips would glide quickly after.

"It was on this sight that Jane Porter again opened her eyes."

Special passage:

The man before him was the embodiment of physical perfection and giant strength, yet it was not upon these he depended in his battle with the great cat, for, mighty as were his muscles, they were as nothing by comparison with Numa's. To his agility, to his brain and to his long keen knife he owed his supremacy.

Chapter XV, The Forest God

Not having read TA in a few years, I've found my memory can get muddled. As I moved toward the chapter titled "The Forest God," I figured that would be the chapter in which Jane spends some time alone in the jungle with the ape-man. But no, it is William Clayton, rather, who comes up with the concept that Tarzan is like a "forest god." So, now that I've got that straight in my mind, on with the chapter.,

This chapter begins with Tarzan and Clayton hearing the gunshot (fired by Jane) and ends with Jane "screaming with hysterical laughter" (not our typical image of Jane but, hey, we all have our moments!).

When we last left Jane, at the end of the previous chapter, she had fired a gun, wounding a lioness which was trying to crawl into the cabin through a window, in order to dine on Jane and her maid, Esmeralda.

As Chapter 15 begins, we see Tarzan and Clayton hurrying toward the sound of the gunfire, as they don't know who fired the shot, or why.

Clayton can't move as fast as Tarzan, so Tarzan decides to carry Clayton piggy-back through the treetops. Clayton believes he is being carried along at terrifying speeds, but Tarzan is inwardly chafing at the relatively slow progress he is making with the weight of a passenger. Making the treetop ride more perilous for Clayton is the fact that it is nighttime, with the moon lighting their way only when breaks in the foliage permit.

Meanwhile, back at the beach, the lioness had made a renewed effort to get into the cabin and was pretty much succeeding. Esmeralda had fainted. Jane picked up the gun and decided to shoot Emeralda and herself to end their misery quickly, rather than die beneath the talons and teeth of Sabor.

Burroughs spends several agonizing paragraphs describing Jane's preparations to pull the trigger, and all the while the reader is screaming: "Jane! What's the matter with you! Don't shoot yourself and your maid! Pump a couple more bullets into that lion's face!!"

But Jane can't hear us, and pulls the trigger on Esmeralda anyway, thus proving she is capable of doing it. Fortunately, favor smiles upon her, as she is distracted by a scream from Sabor and it causes her bullet to miss her slumbering employee.

What caused Sabor to scream is that Tarzan had arrived and, if you read the original version of this story, had "a tiger by the tail," hauling Sabor back out of the window.

All the while he hauls, Tarzan is jabbering in ape talk to Clayton, telling him to grab some of the poison arrows from Tarzan's quiver or to grab the knife and stab Sabor before she gets all the way out of the cabin. Clayton can't understand a word and also can't figure this out for himself. Tarzan can't let loose of Sabor in order to do it himself, so he resorts to pulling her out and then quickly falling on her back and executing the full-Nelson he learned in his earlier battle with Terkoz.

Sabor's neck is soon cracked Tarzan departs the area immediately, leaving Clayton to tell the good news to Jane and an awakening Esmeralda, thus triggering Jane's spasm of relieved, crazy laughter.

Special passage:

From one lofty branch the agile creature swung with Clayton through a dizzy arc to a neighboring tree; then for a hundred yards maybe the sure feet threaded a maze of interwoven limbs, balancing like a tightrope walker high above the black depths of verdure beneath.

Chapter XVI, "Most Remarkable"

After all of the blood-churning episodes experienced so far in this novel by Tarzan's parents, Tarzan himself, and now the newly stranded party of westerners on the African beach, it's time for some comic relief as we pause to catch our breath.

"Most remarkable" is the phrase uttered repeatedly by Professor Archimedes Q. Porter, the father of Jane Porter. We last see him, and his colleague, Mr. Samuel T. Philander, in Chapter XIII, when they wander off into the jungle and, when they assay to return to the rest of the group, head, instead, toward Cape Town, 1,500 miles to the south.

Clayton goes to search for them in Chapter XIV, but needs rescuing by Tarzan. Tarzan and Clayton then rescue Jane and Esmeralda in Chapter XV. Now, it is time to learn the fate of the two elderly gentlemen.

Professor Porter, the absent-minded scholar, and the somewhat similarly distracted Mr. Philander are walking the beach alonside the potential terrors from the adjacent jungle. Their discussion centers around the legacy of European history.

Their engrossing conversation is interrupted by the appearance of a quadruped of the genus Felis, which Mr. Philander sloppily refers to by its "slang term" of "lion."

This lion, which has wandered far from its natural habitat on the Savannah, has recently fed, fortunately for them. But their hurried attempts at escape excite the cat anyway, and Tarzan has to haul them into a tree for their own good.

Tarzan, with gestures, then leads them back to the main group, and all the castaways are still none-the-wiser that this primitive benefactor is the same educated person who wrote the note on the cabin door, signed by Tarzan of the Apes.

In Chapter XI, ERB mentions that Sheeta, alone, of all animals will torture its prey, but that other animals provide a quick and merciful death to their victims. But that doesn't mean that the predators don't have a little "fun" while they're inflicting those quick and merciless deaths, for ERB tells us "...the one great danger was that one of the men might stumble and fall, and then the yellow devil would be upon him in a moment and the joy of the kill would be too great a temptation to withstand."

We learn in this chapter that Jane Porter's late mother was also named Jane.

Pop Quiz:

Porter and Philander have known each other since childhood, and they have nicknames by which they sometimes address each other.

How does Professor Porter sometimes refer to Mr. Philander?

What does Mr. Philander sometimes call Professor Porter?

Professor Porter is well known for his saying of "Most remarkable," probably because that is the name ERB chose for this chapter. But...

When the professor saw the lion, which he presumed had escaped from a zoo, his reaction was to say: "Most R_________." What "R" word did the professor use?

What other two-word phrase is repeatedly on Professor Porter's lips, far more often than "Most Remarkable"?

Special passage:

(In today's world of heightened awareness of the Islamic religion, it is interesting to look at an early 20th Century ERB view:)

Samuel T. Philander was speaking.

"But, my dear professor," he was saying, "I still maintain that but for the victories of Ferdinand and Isabella over the fifteenth century Moors in Spain the world would be to-day a thousand years in advance of where we now find ourselves.

"The Moors were essentially a tolerant, broad-minded, liberal race of agriculturists, artisans and merchants—the very type of people that has made possible such civilization as we find to-day in America and Europe—while the Spaniards--"

"Tut, tut, dear Mr. Philander," interrupted Professor Porter; "their religion positively precluded the possibilities you suggest. Moslemism was, is, and always will be, a blight on that scientific progress which has marked--"



Korak konquered this question...

Professor Porter is known for repeatedly uttering "Most Remarkable" and one other two-word expression. What is Mr. Philander's favorite two-word expletive in this and the previous chapter?

By answering...

"Bless me!" And in the previous chapter their nicknames were Skinny and Ark. Porter also says "Tut, tut," with great regularity.

Then he added...

I just discovered something most remarkable myself, when I went to look up this pop question- my 1967 G&D TOA has the Burials chapter replaced by The Wreck of the Lady Alice chapter from Return of Tarzan. These fifteenpages seem to be the only misprint in the book. I wonder how that happened?

Bridge replies...

Congratulations for your 100 per cent score on the test. And, by the way, it WAS an "open book" quiz, so it WAS okay for you to look up the answers.

Which Tarzan of the Apes is the 1967 G&D one? Is it the greenish-covered one with Tarzan watching the party on the beach from the trees, or is it the yellow covered one, with Tarzan hefting a rock to throw at an ape? I checked both of my copies in those categories, and couldn't find such an error, so yours might be a real rarity. But let me know for sure, please, what's on the cover of the book so I (and others) can double-check their copies.

Chapter XVII, Burials

The events in this chapter take place in less than a day, beginning with sunrise, when the castaways arise and dine on provisions left them by the mutineers, and ending with Jane snuffing the lamp in the cabin, and Tarzan stuffing her letter in his quiver.

In between, there are four burials.

The first burial comes when the castaways examine items in the cabin closely enough to determine that the skeletons belong to John and Alice Clayton, and the small skeleton to their newborn son. However, Mr. Philander examines the small skull and remarks on something about it to Professor Porter who, indeed, agrees that the subject under discussion is "Most Remarkable." Whatever it was they were talking about (we think we know), they decide not to bother mentioning it to the others. The three skeletons are buried "beside their little African cabin."

The castaways notice that the Arrow, the ship now piloted by the mutineers, is leaving the harbor, and this interests Tarzan as well, who heads to the ocean for a better look at his first sailing ship.

The ship's crew observes smoke on the horizon, betokening another ship, and decides to send a small crew ashore to bury a "great chest." This is the second burial; the mutineers end up burying not only the chest, but also their self-appointed new captain, Snipes, whom one of the other crew members dispatches with the swing of his pick.

The third burial occurs after the mutineers row back to the ship. Tarzan of the Apes has been watching all of this and, although he doesn't understand what is going on, he follows the maxim of "ape see, ape do," and, with an abandoned shovel, digs up Snipes and the chest. Snipes is then put back in the ground and Tarzan fills the hole with dirt, thus completing the third burial.

Tarzan carries the chest and shovel a long way into the jungle to a spot he will always be able to find again—the Great Apes' Dum-Dum arena. Here he digs a hole just large enough for the chest and then accomplishes the fourth burial of this chapter.

Tarzan then returns to the cabin to once again observe the castaways.

For the first time, he sees the use of man-made light, as the castaways have gotten the old lamps in the cabin to work. They have erected a partition, so the ladies can have privacy. Tarzan doesn't waste much time watching the men, but moves to the window where he can observe the girl of his newfound dreams.

Totally unaware of the impropriety of spying on a young maiden, Tarzan watches Jane until it is time for bed. Then, we read:

She went to the bed upon which had been spread several layers of soft grasses. These she rearranged.

Then she loosed the soft mass of golden hair which crowned her head. Like a shimmering waterfall turned to burnished metal by a dying sun it fell about her oval face; in waving lines, below her waist it tumbled.

ERB tells us "Tarzan was spellbound," and so is the voyeuristic reader, wondering just how far ERB is going to go with this. But, alas! Victorian principles are upheld, and "she extinguished the lamp," leaving Tarzan and us to wonder what is concealed by the "Cimmerian darkness.''

Pop Quiz:

Professor Porter is known for repeatedly uttering "Most Remarkable" and one other two-word expression. What is Mr. Philander's favorite two-word expletive in this and the previous chapter?

A Tarzan First

For the first time in the Tarzan series, we see the ape-man utilizing his quiver for something other than just carrying arrows. After Jane goes to bed, Tarzan—fascinated by the fact she has been writing something—reaches through the window to swipe the letter and, folding it, places it in his quiver.

Tarzan the Cimmerian:

Before Robert E. Howard first penned the adventures of Conan of Cimmeria, ERB had already used the word in a published work. The word, of course, was an ancient word, and available to both writers. It originally referred to one of a mythical people described by Homer as inhabiting a land of perpetual darkness—thus, ERB 's reference in this chapter to "Cimmerian darkness."

Reading Tarzan books

Back in Chapter 7, The Light of Knowledge, Burroughs said Tarzan's attention "was soon riveted by the books which seemed to exert a strange and powerful influence over him, so that he could scarce attend to aught else." I observed that Burroughs was, unknowingly, writing about the strange and powerful influence his own books would have over the uncounted many, over the years, who would read them.

Here, in this chapter, ERB makes another reference to books that struck me as unintentionally prophetic. As Tarzan looks into the cabin, he sees the two older men engaged in discussion while the younger man (Clayton) "...tilted back against the wall on an improvised stool, was deeply engrossed in reading one of Tarzan's books." How often have we, too, been "deeply engrossed in reading one of Tarzan's books"?

Tarzan's Strength

Tarzan's acquisition of the great chest showed he was pretty darn strong. "Four sailors had sweated beneath the burden of its weight—Tarzan of the Apes picked it up as though it had been an empty packing case, and with the spade slung to his back by a piece of rope, carried it off into the densest part of the jungle."

Special passage:

From the trees Tarzan of the Apes watched the solemn ceremony; but most of all he watched the sweet face and graceful figure of Jane Porter.

In his savage, untutored breast new emotions were stirring. He could not fathom them. He wondered why he felt so great an interest in these people—why he had gone to such pains to save the three men. But he did not wonder why he had torn Sabor from the tender flesh of the strange girl.

Chapter XVIII, The Jungle Toll

Tarzan has stolen Jane's letter and, by the end of the chapter, a "gorilephant" has stolen Jane.

Tarzan stole the letter at night, at the end of the last chapter. And, with the break of dawn, he plucks it from his quiver to enjoy a good read, his simple mind not aware of the scandal of reading someone else's mail, but only absorbed with the fact that the letter "was an expression of her throughts and that was all sufficient."

Jane wrote the letter to her friend, Hazel. It serves as a literary device to bring us up to date on the events which brought Jane and her group to the position of being castaways. We are told of Professor Porter's successful treasure hunt, which then turned unsuccessful because of the greedy sailors who stole the treasure and abandoned them. We also learn of one Robert Canler, who financed the expedition, and of his possible claims on the hand of Jane.

Tarzan has some difficulty figuring out how to read Jane's letter because not only is it in cursive, but it's also sloped the opposite way of other hand-writing Tarzan has seen (Question: Is Jane left-handed?).

The letter tells us that Tarzan's little cabin is located on the West Coast of Africa, about 10 degrees south latitude.

We learn of Tarzan's timidity. Though he was bold to confront Sabor and Numa, and apes four times his size, and risked visits to Mbonga's cannibal village again and again, Tarzan has the natural timidity of the wild beast and is cautious about revealing himself fully to the castaways occupying his cabin. However, his attraction to Jane is so strong that he eventually works up the willpower to do it.

First, he wrote "I am Tarzan of the Apes" on the bottom of Jane's letter and put it back in the cabin, figuring this would clear up the misunderstanding, expressed in the letter, that the castaway's benefactor and Tarzan of the Apes were two different people. When Jane finds the letter, she is horrified to think that this Tarzan may have been watching her through the window.

Tarzan then writes a note, declaring his love for Jane, and telling her "You are mine." He promises to take care of her and hunt for her and protect her as they dwell in his cabin together.

Tarzan goes to the cabin, but no one is home. Like his parents long ago, they have grown lax about venturing far from the cabin, and are off in different diretions, foraging for food.

A scream alerts everyone. The other castaways find a gibbering Esmeralda who can only relate, through her hysteria, that Jane has been carried off by a black, hairy thing which she describes as a gorilephant.

Tarzan is alerted, too, and "shot like a panther into the forest." We don't read of Tarzan again in this chapter but we instinctively know that whatever he is doing will be of far greater value than whatever the castaways do.

After fruitless efforts to locate Jane, the castaways return to the cabin for a night of unsettling rest. Professor Porter is no longer the distracted one, but is focused on the plight of his daughter. He vows to go into the forest to find her, and to not return until he does, effectively sentencing himself to death. Clayton is determined to accompany him and, for the first time, the professor sees in Clayton's face the love he has for Jane. So, it is agreed they will go together. Mr. Philander will stay to watch over Esmeralda.

Special passage:

Professor Porter expresses his rationale for taking up a likely fruitless search for Jane:

"Jane is beyond human assistance now. I simply go that I may face my Maker with her, and know, too, that what was once my dear little girl lies not alone and friendless in the awful jungle.

"The same vines and leaves will cover us, the same rains beat upon us; and when the spirit of her mother is abroad, it will find us together in death, as it has always found us in life...."

Chapter XIX, The Call of the Primitive

In the first half of this chapter, we have the call of the primitive indeed, and in the second half, we have the call of civilization.

The first half is rip-roaring unrelenting Tarzan-in-action adventure; the second half would be exciting and interesting in most other lost-and-found narratives, but sinks to the tedious level in light of the furiously gripping pages that precede it.

In the first half, we see Tarzan tearing through the jungle in hot pursuit of the evil ape, Terkoz, and his fair, blond captive; we see the savage battle between ape and man for possession of the she; we see the life's blood spurting from Jane's hairy abudutor as her rescuer plunges his knife into its body again and again; we see the ape man get his first taste of hot, passionate lips and his first contact with a warm, passionate, female body; we see him shocked by the first-ever rebuff of his instinctive advances, and we see a primitive man carry his helpless captive off into unknown places to do what we can only imagine or fear.

It's a sequence that has just about everything you would expect out of Tarzan, expect for the victory cry of the bull ape!

And so, when we get to the second half, we find that the other castaways have been found by the crew of a French ship (yawn); we find out the just fate of the mutineers (ho hum), and we get introductions all around (wake me when it's over).

It's nice that all that happened but—hey—we want to get back to Tarzan and Jane! Where did he take her? What's going to happen next? This is all going to work out for good some way...or is it?

Yes, ERB leaves us with a cliffhanger right in the middle of the chapter and we must force ourselves to be patient as we read it through, anxious to leave the Frenchman and the other castaways to fend for themselves and get back to Tarzan and Jane.

But that's not until the next chapter. In the meantime, here's some things we learn from this chapter:

-- One has to admire Jane. In the clutches of a wild, savage animal, being borne away from family and friends, one could well despair of the hopelessness of it all. But Jane...does not lose consciousness...her brain was clear...she comprehended all that transpired...she conserved her energy...she formed a mental plan of possible escape.

-- Burroughs has previously reported about Tarzan's ability to follow the spoor of other creatures, but for the first time he gives us a detailed description of Tarzan's methods, as the ape-man, though racing through the treetops at breakneck speed, nonetheless observes the tiny clues which tell him which way Terkoz has gone, including the larva on the limb squashed so that is appears as nothing more than "a speck of moisture."

-- We see the power of one emotion to dominate another. Tarzan almost always instinctively gives a victory cry of some kind after killing a foe in a fearsome fight, and one might expect such a thing after he vanquishes Terkoz. But no, the sight of Jane, for this moment "...a primeval woman who sprang forward with outstretched arms toward the primeval man..." was quite sufficient to make Tarzan forget all about exulting in his victory, and turning, instead, to embrace the prize he had won.

-- The reader experiences a moment of fear when ERB writes: "A moment ago and it had been his intention to hasten Jane Porter back to her people, but that little moment was lost now in the dim and distant past of things which were but can never be again, and with it the good intention had gone to join the impossible." This is about as startling to the reader as was, several chapters ago, when Tarzan prepared to slice off and eat a chunk of the cannibal he had killed. No, the reader might have thought, that's a line you musn't cross. And the reader breathed a sigh of relief when Tarzan changed his mind. Now, in this scene, Tarzan has a change of heart about restoring Jane to her people. He's going to pack her off somewhere to be his mate, whether against her will or not. No, Tarzan, the reader says, you must not cross that line, either! Will Tarzan cross it? The reader must wait until the next chapter to find out!!

Special passage:

"Since then Tarzan of the Apes had felt a warm, lithe form close pressed to his. Hot, sweet breath against his cheek and mouth had fanned a new flame to life within his breast, and perfect lips had clung to his in burning kisses that had seared a deep brand into his soul - a brand which marked a new Tarzan."

Chapter XX, Heredity

Edgar Rice Burroughs could have titled this chapter a lot of things: Jungle Love, Tarzan and Jane, Splendor in the Grass, Hootchie Kootchie at the Dum-Dum.

Instead, he titles it "Heredity."

What does heredity have to do with a wild jungle man carting off a helpless captive to a deep jungle glade to install her as his mate?

Everything. Because, in a nice book like this, you just can't have things like that take place. And so, heredity is the saving grace. Although Tarzan's environment has seen him grow up as a member of an ape tribe, prone to act as apes do, it is the genes he received from his long line of "proper" English ancestors which wins out, and gives him enough of a sense of decency to do the right thing—to not force himself upon the young maiden and, finally, to return her to her family and friends.

In between, though, we have dreamy looks, kisses, and thoughts of undying love.

When carried off by Terkoz the ape in the previous chapter, Jane maintained her presence of mind to develop a potential plan of escape. When carried off by Tarzan, she maintains her presence of mind to decide that, "No, he could never harm her; of that she was convinced when she translated the fine features and the frank, brave eyes above her into the chivalry which they proclaimed."

Tarzan, meanwhile, is having thoughts—or, rather, second thoughts—as he continues to carry Jane away from her comrades. He begins to think of what Terkoz would have done with Jane and begins to realize that he has, basically, the same intentions. But unlike Terkoz, his reasoning mind begins to ask itself: Is this really the right thing to do?

"True, it was the order of the jungle for the male to take his mate by force; but could Tarzan be guided by the laws of the beasts? Was not Tarzan a Man? But how did men do? He was puzzled; for he did not know."

Tarzan eventually deposits Jane in the seldom-used amphitheater in which the great apes hold their dum-dums. There, he behaves like a perfect gentleman, bringing her fruit, making her a bed and a small shelter, and even loaning her his knife so she could protect herself from him, if need be.

Eventually, he returns her to her people back at the little harbor, but is still too shy to stay and meet her traveling companions.

In between, we have a little loving:

Tarzan had already planted a few kisses on Jane back when he first rescued her from Terkoz in the last chapter. Here, the spooning is a bit more romantic. "Tarzan of the Apes stroked her soft hair, and tried to comfort and quiet her as Kala had him, when, as a little ape, he had been frightened by Sabor, the lioness, or Histah, the snake.

"Once he pressed his lips lightly upon her forehead, and she did not move, but closed her eyes and sighed."

And later, as they neared the cabin by the beach once again, "...finally he drew her to him very gently and stooped to kiss her, but first he looked into her eyes and waited to learn if she were pleased, or if she would repulse him.

"Just an instant the girl hesitated, and then she realized the truth, and throwing her arms about his neck she drew his face to hers and kissed him—unashamed.

"I love you—I love you," she murmured.

In Chapter 18, Tarzan had written a love letter to Jane, telling her he loved her, and now Jane tells Tarzan she loves him. Normally, that would seal the deal. However, Jane has not yet seen that letter, and—when she does—we have to remember that she still thinks the mysterious "Tarzan of the Apes" is a different person from the wild jungle man. And, on Tarzan's part, he writes English, but doesn't understand it when it is spoken, so he wouldn't have understood what Jane was saying when she spoke "I love you," although he undoubtedly well understood it when she spoke with the touch of her lips on his!

A key story element in this chapter is Jane's examination of Tarzan's locket. Tarzan never realized it opened up, but Jane clicks it open to discover the pictures of Tarzan's parents, although neither he not she makes the connection. One might think that Jane might at least have an inkling that Tarzan could be the son of the couple, especially since he bears such a great resemblance, but ERB teases us by drawing out the case of mistaken identity still longer!

The careful reader might have one unsettling thought in all this, and it has nothing to do with the romance or heredity themes of the chapter. When Tarzan brings back some fruit, he "...with his knife opened and prepared the various viands for her meal."

One might recall that the last time we saw that knife used it was being plunged again and again into the hair-covered, blood-spurting chest of Terkoz. One wonders if the knife had been cleaned before being applied to the fruit!

Open Book Quiz:

1. What did Tarzan most often do in the process of making a kill?
a) growl
b) snarl
c) snap his teeth
d) smile
Hint: Check the fifth paragraph of the chapter.
2. This chapter tells us a city that Jane had previously visited. It was:
a) Berlin
b) Paris
c) New York
c) Cape Town

Special passage:

"...It was the hall-mark of his aristocratic birth, the natural outcroping of many generations of fine breeding, an hereditary instinct of graciousness which a lifetime of uncouth and savage training and environment could not eradicate.



The set-up:

Bridge said in his TA-21 review that Leopold II was responsible for terrorism in the Congo, which was the situation that Mbonga's tribe of cannibals were fleeing (TA-9).

Korak replied..

Thanks for that! I have always wondered about that reference. Quite interesting.

AQ Porter observed...

Another reason the "1872" theory doesn't work. John Clayton Sr. was sent out to investigate the Congo Free State mess; he could not have done so before it began.

The Red Hawk added...

I suppose Leopold's atrocities in the Congo were really the first genocide of the 20th Century. At least, there was a public outcry and, as you say, Leopold lost control of what had been a private fiefdom as it became an official Belgian colony. Always think of Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness" in connection with the Belgian Congo.

I don't think ERB said it directly that Greystoke was going to Africa to investigate Leopold's colonial policies-but you state that Leopold began to rule the Congo in 1885, so that could tie in with why Greystoke went to Africa in the first place.

Bridge takes it from there....

Thanks for those comments. I had remembered the reference in Chapter 9, but had forgotten about the reference in Chapter 1, which was supplied first by AQ Porter. The Red Hawk added some further thoughts from the Chapter 1 reference.

I went back and re-read that part of Chapter 1, and the Red Hawk is correct that it doesn't specifically state that Lord Greystoke was going to investigate the Congo, per se, but "a British West Coast African colony." The condition of this colony, however, sounds similar to the situation described in the Congo, and there ARE references, in TA-1, to "savage tribes along the Congo and Aruwami."

But was the Congo a British colony? Wikipedia says that Britain had a "technical claim" on the Congo via Lieutenant Cameron's 1873 expedition from Zanzibar to bring home Livingstone's body, "but was reluctant to take on yet another expensive, unproductive colony."

So maybe John Clayton Sr. was going to investigate British interests in the Congo itself, or maybe he was going to investigate the situation in an actual full-fledged British colony which was being affected by what was going on in the Congo.

Whatever the case, it appears that this real-life situation in the Congo serves as a kind of historical backdrop for the whole story of "Tarzan of the Apes," thus lending support to ERB's statement on the novel's opening page that it "may be true."

When you think about it, ERB really was a writer of "historical fiction," tieing Tarzan into not only this news event, but also into others, later on, such as World Wars I and II. And, of course, his Martian novels are linked to the Civil War (John Carter) and World War II (Ulysses Paxton), The Land that Time Forgot is World War II-related, and then there are further examples, such as the Apache novels, as well as other stories.

So, in "Tarzan of the Apes," we see that a political-military-criminal situation in an African nation was what brought Tarzan's parents to Africa in the first place; natives fleeing the situation then, unknowingly, helped this wild child to learn of the existence of other creatures like himself and to learn the use of weapons; and, eventually, these same natives served, unknowingly, as the catalyst which would bring Tarzan into contact with D'Arnot, who would lead him along the final steps to civilization.

So, thanks for the comments, fellow erblisters. They helped me to see a picture I hadn't seen before, and I'm happy to pass back this summary of further thoughts to you all.

It's nice to be in such thoughtful and helpful company.

Chapter XXI, The Village of Torture

This is a rather simple chapter to summarize: French officer D'Arnot leads crewmen on jungle hunt for Jane; D'Arnot is captured by cannibals and dragged off to their village to be eaten; Tarzan shows up in the nick of time and rescues D'Arnot.

It's an important chapter, because it is the first meeting between Tarzan and D'Arnot—who will play such an important role in helping the ape-man take those key steps to his full self-realization and a working knowledge of the world that surrounds his simple jungle home.

The reader, and Jane's castaway companions, met D'Arnot and other Frenchmen from the rescue ship two chapters ago, but Tarzan, as yet, knows nothing of the connection Mbonga's captive has with his other newfound white "persons of interest."

As he returns Jane to her cabin, they hear gunshots. Mr. Philander and Esmeralda are in view, so Tarzan likely assumes that it is Clayton and Professor Porter who are in need of rescuing. And so, he races toward Mbonga's village, which is the most likely spot to find someone who he can rescue before it is too late.

ERB doesn't explain what Tarzan may have thought when he saw that the captive was neither the professor nor the younger man, but Tarzan, by this time, has developed a kinship for any of his race, and that is sufficient reason for rescuing this obviously brave men from the savagery of the natives.

Then, too, he has often observed the cruelty the cannibal tribe imposes on its helpless victims, and he is ever eager to punish the tribe with his own brand of retribution and terror.

But ERB is not entirely condemning of the African savages. He provides an explanation, if not a justification, for their eagerness to torture and kill anyone of the white race. He writes: "To add to the fiendishness of their cruel savagery was the poignant memory of still crueler barbarities practiced upon them and theirs by the white officers of that arch hypocrite, Leopold II of Belgium, because of whose atrocities they had fled the Congo Free State—a pitiful remnant of what once had been a mighty tribe."

According to Wikipedia, Leopold II began laying the diplomatic, military, and economic groundwork for his control of the Congo in 1877, and ruled it outright from early 1885 until its annexation by Belgium in 1908.

"Under Leopold II's administration, the Congo Free State was subject to a terror regime, including atrocities such as mass killings and maimings which were used to subjugate the indigenous tribes of the Congo region and to procure slave labour. Estimates of the death toll range depending on the source."

Beginning in 1900, news of the conditions in the Congo Free State began to be exposed in European and U.S. press. By 1908 public pressure and diplomatic maneuvers led to the end of Leopold II's rule.

Since Tarzan's parents sailed from England in 1888, and he was born shortly after they were stranded by the mutineers, he would have been 18 in about 1906. That was the year that Mbonga's tribe first showed up in Tarzan's neighborhood, fleeing what was described in Chapter 9 as an unknown enemy. This chapter identifies that enemy.

Special passage:

"D'Arnot saw a clean-limbed young giant emerge from the shadows into the firelight and come quickly toward him....Without a word Tarzan of the Apes cutd the bonds which held the Frenchman."

Chapter XXII, The Search Party

This could be called "the decimation chapter." The French military decimates the village of Mbonga; Clayton decimates Jane; Jane decimates Clayton; Esmeralda decimates the English language.

There are two main story lines. The French, under Lt. Charpentier, D'Arnot's colleague and friend, organize a large search party to seek D'Arnot, who had been captured by Mbonga's tribe and, unknown to them, rescued by Tarzan.

They trek through the jungle, surround the tribe's stockade, and then pillage the village, killing every man and some of the women, but sparing the children and the women who didn't resist. They see some natives wearing items of D'Arnot's clothes, but they don't find him, and assume he had become cannibal food.

Clayton, who accompanied them, is relieved, upon his return, to find that Jane—who he knew had been carried off by a beast—was back, alive and healthy.

He decided this would be a good time to start using cozy-sounding language with Jane, but she was still starry-eyed from her encounter with the "forest god" and Clayton's forward remarks tend only to alienate her. Her attitude, in turn, makes Clayton jealous, and he begins making uncalled-for nasty remarks about the forest god (who they still don't realize is the one called "Tarzan"). Clayton even implies that the forest god is probably one of the cannibals who dined on D'Arnot.

In reading this chapter, one wonders how Jane's heart could ever soften for Clayton at a later date, yet we know that DOES happen.

Blacks probably would not appreciate this chapter. Though Mbonga's tribesmen are cannibals who torture, kill and eat other people, one wonders if this wholesale slaughter by the French was really deserved, especially since, in this case, they were guilty only of "attempted" murder. Then, too, there is the stereotype Esmeralda using stereotypical black "language" at the end of the chapter, primarily for comic relief. What was acceptable writing back then would not pass muster today, for sure. But, it is what it is.


ERB's description of Esmeralda's language may have brought laughs to readers back then, but he was also capable of more subtle humor.

At the expense of the British: Clayton was an Englishman, so the girl had passed quite out of sight before he deduced what reply a man would have made.

At the expense of the fair sex: Jane Porter saw the little note and ignored it, for she was very angry and hurt and mortified, but—she was a woman, and so eventually she picked it up and read it.

Jane's mood swings:

After Clayton calls Jane by her first name: He had never before called her by her given name. Forty-eight hours before it would have suffused Jane Porter with a soft glow of pleasure to have heard that name from Clayton's lips—now it frightened her.

After Clayton's note places her "above all others in the world.": A week ago that sentence would have filled her with delight, now it depressed her.


Jane holds notes from two guys in this chapter, the note of apology from Clayton referneced above under Jokes, and the note from Tarzan. In Chapter 18, "The Jungle Toll," Tarzan writes a love letter to Jane and takes it to the cabin, but drops it and runs to the rescue when he hears Jane's cry as she is kidnaped by Terkoz. Near the end of this chapter, we learn that Jane found and read the love note from Tarzan.

Carrion eater:

One of Clayton's nasty remarks about Tarzan was to refer to him as a "carrion eater." In Chapter 14, "At the Mercy of the Jungle," Tarzan kills a lion to save Clayton and then eats some of the lion's flesh, raw. Since that was a fresh kill, it could not be considered carrion in the normal sense of the word, so Clayton has no real basis for making this charge. Nonetheless, he was correct. We know that Tarzan likes to bury his kills in case he gets hungry later, so, in effect, on these return visits, he is eating carrion. I've never really thought of Tarzan as a "carrion eater" but, technically, I guess you'd have to say he is. I hope that, later in life, he brushed his teeth before kissing Jane after such a meal!

Special passage:

(Jane) tried to imagine her wood-god by her side in the saloon of an ocean liner. She saw him eating with his hands, tearing his food like a beast of prey, and wiping his greasy fingers upon his thighs. She shuddered....

But, after thinking it over a bit more, she decided: "Beast? Then God make me a beast; for, man or beast, I am yours."

Chapter XXIII, Brother Men

This chapter is not called "Brother Men" simply because it is an account of Tarzan and D'Arnot in the jungle. Rather, it is called that, I believe, because it shows the brotherhood practiced by Tarzan, in caring for this fellow man who is, after all, a stranger, and it shows the brotherhood of D'Arnot, who, perhaps unwittingly, is an instrument in helping Tarzan much further along the road to realizing his true relationship with and obligation to his fellow man, his "brother."

Tarzan had rescued D'Arnot from the stake in the cannibal village, but the severely wounded Frenchman needs a great deal of "jungle medicine," along with a good portion of sheer luck, to recover.

As his health improves, he begins teaching Tarzan to speak in a human language, partially helping the ape-man and partially muddling things, since Tarzan has taught himself to write English but D'Arnot teaches the jungle lord to speak French!!

Both D'Arnot and Tarzan are revealed to be multi-linguists. In addition to his native French, D'Arnot speaks English, Italian, Spanish and German; some Norwegian, Russian and Greek, and a smattering of the dialect of one West Coast tribe.

Tarzan, in addition to his native ape language, knows some sign language and also speaks some Tantor, Numa, and a little of the language of some of "the other jungle folk." In this chapter, Tarzan adds French to what will be a repertoire that will grow throughout his careeer, as he encounters strange lands and strange languages.

Eventually, they are able to travel and Tarzan and D'Arnot are disappointed to find the little cabin empty and the ships gone from the harbor.

D'Arnot spies two notes, both addressed to Tarzan (D'Arnot, of course, is the first of the African visitors to discover that Tarzan and the "forest god" are the same person). But as he turns to tell the ape-man, Tarzan is already gone...back to the jungle, back to lose himself in the forest, bitterly disappointed that Jane has left him.

Still, the ape-man begins to have self-doubts. Is running away really the right thing to do? Should he return to help D'Arnot?

The Frenchman, meanwhile, is alone in the cabin as night falls, with only a loaded rifle for company. When an unknown intruder begins to open the door to the cabin, D'Arnot aims and fires (which, when you think about it, was really a rather foolish thing to do. He could have at least called out first: "Who's there?").

But, the first-time reader will have to wait a few pages to find out who was "there," as here the chapter ends.

D'Arnot benefits from white noise:

The incessant hum of the jungle—the rustling of millions of leaves—the buzz of insects—the voices of the birds and monkeys seemed blended into a strangely soothing purr, as though he lay apart, far from the myriad life whose sounds came to him only as a blurred echo.

At length he fell in a quiet slumber, nor did he awake again until afternoon.

Tarzan's nobility:

Tarzan is of noble birth, and we know the book ends with a footnote to his nobility. Here is another mention that Tarzan was noble in practice as well as in heritage:

Tarzan was as anxious to go as D'Arnot, for he longed to see Jane Porter again.

It had been hard for him to remain with the Frenchman all these days for that very reason, and that he had unselfishly done so spoke more glowingly for his nobility of character than even did his rescuing of the French officer from Mbonga's clutches.

Special passage:

Tarzan asks himself some questions:

"What are you, Tarzan?" he asked aloud. "An ape or a man?

"If you are an ape you will do as the apes would do—leave one of your kind to die in the jungle if it suited your whim to go elsewhere.

"If you are a man, you will return to protect your kind. You will not run away from one of your own people, because one of them has run away from you."

Chapter XXIV, Lost Treasure

There are three kinds of lost treasure in this chapter. One is the treasure that the mutineers buried and Tarzan dug up. The other is Jane. The other is Tarzan.

Tarzan had watched the mutineers bury a treasure chest, along with a fresh cadaver, in Chapter 17.

Now, with the French having captured the mutineers, one of the bad guys is persuaded to lead the soldiers to the site so Professor Porter can have the riches which led Jane and him to Africa in the first place. However, they return empty handed, Tarzan having reburied the treasure 'neath the green sward in the Dum-Dum arena.

Then there is Jane, Tarzan's treasure. The French, and just about everyone else, are ready to sail for civilization, but Jane persuades them to stick around for another week, just in case Tarzan and D'Arnot show up. The Frenchman believe their compatriot, D'Arnot, is dead, having seen the cannibals wearing his garments. The Frenchmen also believe, with the help of Clayton, that this mysterious forest god, who has helped so many of them, is probably at least an adopted member, or friend, of the cannibals. Therefore, why should he return?

Jane points out that waiting a week for them to return is the least they can do, considering their friendship for D'Arnot and the debt of gratitude they owe the forest god.

However, by the sixth day, even she is beginning to have her doubts of ever seeing Tarzan again, the insinuations of Clayton having worn her down a bit.

So, as we saw in the previous chapter, when Tarzan and D'Arnot finally DO come to the cabin, Jane and the others are gone, and Tarzan has lost his treasured Jane.

But Jane, too, suffers the lost of her treasure, for Tarzan has become that to her. Sailing away from an unmarked African harbor, why would she dream that she would ever see this mysterious wild man again?

Professor Porter's lost riches could be replaced. Tarzan and Jane's riches in each other could never be replaced.

Good thing the story doesn't end here!!

Special passage:

"Could you have seen him charge the monster as a bull might charge a grizzly—absolutely without sign of fear or hesitation—you would have believed him more than human.

"Could you have seen those mighty muscles knotting under the brown skin—could you have seen them force back those awful fangs—you too would have thought him invincible.

"And could you have seen the chivalrous treatment which he accorded a strange girl of a strange race, you would feel the same absolute confidence in him that I feel."—Jane Porter

Chapter XXV, The Outpost of the World

When last we left D'Arnot, in Chapter 23, he was firing blindly at an intruder at the door of the little cabin. Now we see that the intruder was D'Arnot's new friend, Tarzan of the Apes himself. Fortunately, it's only a scratch, so Tarzan is able to recover rather quickly.

With the other castaways having left on the French ship, Tarzan and D'Arnot have some decisions to make. First, D'Arnot gives Tarzan the two letters left behind by William Clayton and Jane Porter. As he reads Jane's letter, Tarzan realizes she thinks he and Tarzan are two separate people. But what troubles him most is the line in the letter that she has given her heart to another. He doesn't realize that, by "another," she means him, her "forest god."

Nonetheless, he soon decides he must go to America to visit Jane. D'Arnot teaches Tarzan a little bit about geography and, undaunted, Tarzan decides to take the first step of what will be a long journey.

He and D'Arnot head up the coast. On the way, Tarzan tells D'Arnot about the treasure and suggests he return to fetch it. Instead, D'Arnot suggests they continue on and eventually charter a ship to go back for the treasure.

They finally come to the outpost of the chapter title. This is really the outpost of "Tarzan's World," his first actual contact with a civilized settlement. He has to learn some manners: Tarzan's first instinct, upon coming upon the village, is to pull out his bow and arrows to start picking the "enemy" off. D'Arnot has to give him lessons about behavior in a civilized society and, once a guest in the compound, Tarzan begins learning more.

As the chapter closes, clothes are being custom made for Tarzan and D'Arnot to wear as they continue on their journey.

Rich D'Arnot:

We learn in this chapter that D'Arnot is quite well to do. It was good fortune, in more ways than one, for Tarzan to save this particular man from the clutches of the cannibals. D'Arnot says: "...you need not worry about money, nor need you work for it. I have enough for two—enough for twenty. Much more than is good for one man, and you shall have all you need if ever we reach civilization."


This is a key chapter in the life of the ape-man. He produces the diary his father kept in French and, on reading it, D'Arnot begins to realize that Tarzan is the son of an English lord. Best of all, the dairy contains the fingerprints of the infant Lord Greystoke, which will prove the final link in the chain leading to the confirmation of Tarzan's true identity.


Missionaries, nuns, jungle doctors and various social workers are a staple of the Tarzan movies and TV shows, but not necessarily so in the books. In "Tarzan and the Lost Safari," Gordon Scott says, in broken English, that he learned to speak from a missionary. Not having read all 24 Tarzan books in awhile, this is the only missionary I actually recall ERB having Tarzan meet. We know that Tarzan was learning to speak French, courtesy of D'Arnot, so he was ripe for a few English lessons! Father Constantine, the missionary in this chapter, doesn't teach Tarzan any English (this is a French Mission!) but, while spending a week there, "...the ape-man, keenly observant, learned much of the ways of men...."

Special passage:

"Tarzan," he said at length, "it is impossible that the ape, Kala, was your mother. If such a thing can be, which I doubt, you would have inherited some of the characteristics of the ape, but you have not—you are pure man, and, I should say, the offspring of highly bred and intelligent parents."

Chapter XXVI, The Height of Civilization

After leaving the French mission, Tarzan and D'Arnot continue their journey to civilization. It took a month to get to the mission and another month to get to a port city, where they spend several weeks looking for a ship they can charter to go back for the treasure and then go on to Paris. D'Arnot is able to wire his government that he is safe, and requests some extended leave time.

Probably what most people remember about this chapter is how Tarzan kills a lion to win a bet, but he also has other adventures in this little city. We are told, though, of only one other, where he breaks the wrist of a crazed black man who, after a rampage through town, selects the Frenchman, Monsieur Tarzan, as his next victim. The man is sent crying and sobbing from Tarzan's presence.

Tarzan has sometimes come in for criticism from fans for killing a lion simply because some "civilized" men goad him into it. A re-read of this chapter, though, shows that Tarzan actually killed the lion for valid economic reasons. D'Arnot had more than enough money to pay for everything that Tarzan needed, but Tarzan had begun to realize the importance of one having one's own money, and the bet proposed by the country club fellow was the ape-man's opportunity to make a quick 10,000 francs. This would give him his own funds, and keep him from being dependent on someone else, even a gracious friend such as D'Arnot (who covered the bet for the penniless ape-man).

So, Tarzan of the Apes takes another major step toward becoming civilized by becoming a wage earner, and, entrepreneurally, finding a way to adapt a jungle-gained skill to make money in a civilized world.

We learn something new when Tarzan drops his lasso around Numa's head and then stabs the tethered beast to death. ERB writes: "...as he had done it 100 times in the past..." Does this mean that Tarzan had killed 100 lions in the past through this method of lassoing and then knifing, or is he talking about many different kinds of animals that Tarzan has killed, such as Bara the deer? Upon first read of the paragraph, it seems as if the author refers to lions. A second read, though, shows that ERB could be referring to the style of killing, rather than the type of victim. Early in the book, we find Tarzan using the noose method, experimentally and unsuccessfuly on Sabor, but he kills some other lions without aid of the noose.

Certainly, we will see Tarzan use the noose/lasso method of killing wild animals again and again in future books.

After taking a few short paragraphs to retrieve the treasure, Tarzan and D'Arnot go to Paris, where D'Arnot arranges to have Tarzan's fingerprints taken, so they can be compared with those in the diary.

When in the police station, D'Arnot pulled out Tarzan's diary and "Tarzan looked at the book in surprise. How did D'Arnot come to have his book?"

How indeed, we might ask, since it was a treasured possession of Tarzan.

The last time we saw the diary was in the previous chapter, "The Outpost of the World," in which Tarzan extracted the diary from the bottom of his quiver to show it to D'Arnot. Upon reading it, and seeing the fingerprints of Little Lord Greystoke, D'Arnot's brain went into full gear. "...in his mind had sprung the determination to prove the correctness of his theory, for he had discovered the key which alone could unlock the mystery, or consign it forever to the realms of the unfathomable."

Nothing more is said of the diary. So, D'Arnot's "determination" may have resulted in his employing some sleight of hand to secure Tarzan's diary on his own person, to protect the evidence. Or, he may have appropriated it from Tarzan at a later date. Whatever the case, it was without the ape-man's knowledge, as we can see by the surprise in which Tarzan realizes D'Arnot has his diary.

Whatever the case, Tarzan, though surprised, apparently is not annoyed by D'Arnot's possession of his property, as nothing more is said of the matter.

The chapter closes with the diary in the possession of the police chief, and we know he will retain it, for evidence purposes, after Tarzan has sailed for America.

What will become of it? A future novel in the series may give the answer. If not, we can probably just assume that it was handled with proper safeguards and eventually returned to its rightful owner: John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, Tarzan of the Apes.

Special passage:

Incidentally, he had won ten thousand francs, for D'Arnot insisted that he keep it all.

This was a very important item to Tarzan, who was just commencing to realize the power which lay behind the little pieces of metal and paper which always changed hands when human beings rode, or ate, or slept, or clothed themselves, or drank, or worked, or played, or sheltered themselves from the rain or cold or sun.

It had become evident to Tarzan that without money one must die.

Chapter XXVII, The Giant Again

The story races toward a conclusion, with the heroine in peril. We know the hero is racing to save her. But...will he be in time?

The title of the chapter reminds us just how big a person Tarzan is. Not only tall, but also rather well filled out, so as to appear to be a giant of a man. How many of the movie Tarzans would cause the word "giant" to leap to one's mind upon first glance?

Another title for the chapter could be "Three Suitors" and, even better, "The Styles of Three Suitors."

First there is Robert Canler. We don't know much about Canler. He was referred to in a letter from Jane, earlier in the book. But what we know is enough to make us detest the man. He loaned Professor Porter money for an expedition and, somehow, made it clear that he would expect Jane's hand in marriage if the money could not be repaid. He is a cad. Jane does not like Mr. Canler, and she emphasizes this by referring to him usually with a "Mr." rather than a more familiar just plain "Robert" or "Bob."

"Do you realize that you are buying me, Mr. Canler?" she said finally, and in a cold, level voice.

After some more comments by Jane, he responds, "Of course you are right. I am buying you, and I knew that you knew it, but I thought you would prefer to pretend that it was otherwise. I should have thought your self-respect and your Porter pride would have shrunk from admitting, even to yourself, that you were a bought woman."

So, not only is Canler someone who would attempt to buy a wife, but he is the type who would have no hesitation to belittle her about it.

Can you imagine this as any kind of a marriage at all?

Then there is the second suitor, William Cecil Clayton. He is a much more likeable person but, unfortunately, he, too, would buy a wife. This is revealed in a much subtler way, when Jane is thanking Clayton for spending a lot of money making the Wisconsin farm comfortable for her father.

Jane says to Clayton, "...I know you are big enough and generous enough to have done it just for him—and, oh Cecil, I wish I might repay you as you deserve—as you would wish."

"Why can't you, Jane?"

With that question, Clayton is admitting that he, too, would gladly take Jane as a wife even if she married him only out of a perceived obligation to repay him for all he had done for her father.

Then, there's the third suitor, Tarzan.

His approach is much more straightforward, and honest:

"Yes, your man, Jane Porter; your savage, primeval man come out of the jungle to claim his mate—the woman who ran away from him," he added almost fiercely.

Later, Tarzan reveals that he loves Jane so much that his goal is for her to be happy, even if it hurts him:

"I think I understand you," he replied quietly. "I shall not urge you, for I would rather see you happy than to be happy myself."

In all of this, one just has to shake one's head sadly about Professor Porter. Although he is a sympathetic character in the book, one has to wonder what kind of a father would get himself into such a fix where he would actually expect his daughter to wed a man she despises, just to get him out of debt. To Canler, he says: "Tut—tut, Mr. Canler. Jane is a most obedient daughter. She will do precisely as I tell her."

This chapter goes from Canler in a taxicab pulling up in front of the Porters' Baltimore home, to Tarzan and Jane in a great black car pulling up at the Wisconsin home, after Tarzan rescued Jane from the forest fire.

One has to admire and marvel at Tarzan's rapid development from ape-man to a man able to get around quite handily in a world that, up until recently, he had no idea existed. He is able to sail to a strange country, somehow get transportation to Baltimore and, there, learn that Jane and family are in Wisconsin, and figure out how to get there, and how to find that cabin up there in the woods. Somewhere along the way, he has to obtain a car and learn how to drive. Presumably, he had to pass a test to get a driver's license, although the ape-man may have dispensed with such legalities.

Knowing how to write English, he could have passed a written driver's test, and, in the next chapter, he reveals that he can understand spoken English, but is still trying to master the art of speaking it.

An ape-fellow indeed who is "most remarkable."

Special passage:

A veering of the wind blew a cloud of smoke about them and she could no longer see the man who was speeding toward her, but suddenly she felt a great arm about her. Then she was lifted up, and she felt the rushing of the wind and the occasional brush of a branch as she was borne along.

Chapter XXVIII, Conclusion

After Tarzan restores Jane to her family and friends, the excitement of the reunion is short-lived: Robert Canler shows up, and he's got a man of the cloth with him.

The other man of the cloth, the man of the loin cloth, that is, takes an instant dislike to Canler. Before Canler can even do or say anything offensive, ERB writes that "Tarzan eyed Robert Canler as Sabor eyes her prey."

However, it doesn't take long for Canler to provoke Tarzan to action. He insists that Jane marry him, and he means "right now." Canler is like dry tinder, awaiting a match, and he provides the perfect excuse when he reaches out and grabs Jane by the arm to march her over to the preacher. Tarzan springs into action.

There are many literary devices an author can use to get a hero or heroine out of a sticky situation. As "Tarzan of the Apes" comes to a close, there are two potential "escapes" for Jane. First, the recovery of the treasure itself, which would enable Professor Porter to pay his debt to Canler and eliminate the need for Jane to marry him. Jane's honor, however, will not permit her to go back on her word, treasure or not. Second, Canler could have been killed in the forest fire. That would have wrapped everything up in a nice, neat package.

However, I like ERB's solution better. Tarzan leaps into action, grabs Canler by the arm, and "Another hand shot to his throat and in a moment he was being shaken high above the floor, as a cat might shake a mouse."

Now, that's Tarzan for you: No clever gimmicks to resolve a bad situation, just plain, brute, Tarzanic force.

"Do you release her from your promise?" Tarzan asked the suspended Canler. "It is the price of your life."

Given a choice like that, Canler could have but one option—the only option that Tarzan of the Apes left him!

So, the stage is set for Tarzan to mary Jane. But, ah, Burroughs decides to further complicate matters as Jane, in a moment of confusion, promises herself to William Cecil Clayton instead.

As the story ends, Tarzan receives a telegram that his finger prints show that he is the rightful heir to the Greystoke title and fortune, both now held by his rival suitor. But the man who evolved from a tiny ape baby has reached the noblest height of civilized man, the ability to sacrifice his own gain for the presumed happiness of the one he loves.

Special passage:

Finger prints prove you Greystoke. Congratulations. D'ARNOT.