Whiteness - Danielle Boudreau Race In Literature 61R Divine...

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Danielle Boudreau Race In Literature 61R Divine Superiority In Edgar Rice Burroughs, ‘Tarzan of the Apes,” whiteness means to hold superiority and prestige over other non-white races. The main character, Tarzan, is superior to all other races because of his whiteness due to his perfect genetic build. Tarzan, whose father was an English nobleman, Lord Greystone, was not raised by his parents but by an ape named Kala when Kala’s tribe kills his parents. Even though apes raised him, Tarzan, still learns how to read, write, build weapons, and make clothes because of, as suggested by the narrator, his bloodline. Due to the fact that he was able to just pick-up many useful skills, Tarzan quickly becomes smarter than the apes, which then makes him stronger than the apes. Whiteness as a signifier of superiority and strong pure genes is a common them in other books written in the same timeframe as ‘Tarzan of the Apes,” “Black No More,” by George Schuyler and ‘Wide Sargasso Sea,” by Jean Rhys. Tarzan is raised like a young ape and as he is growing up he is embarrassed by the fact that he is not as big, strong, and hairy like all the other apes. What he is embarrassed by quickly becomes what he is most proud of. Early on in the book, Tarzan learns how to make weapons, which makes it easier for him to kill his enemies in the forest. At that moment Tarzan starts becoming the more superior being in the forest, and Burroughs accredits that his whiteness. “In Tarzan’s clever little mind many thoughts revolved, and
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back of these was his divine power of reason.” (P. 44, Burroughs). In only one sentence Burroughs proves that whiteness is a symbol or being superior. In Ancient Roman times, many of the rulers would rule because they had divine right to. Divine right meant that such ruler had been given the authority from God to rule people.
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course LIT 61R taught by Professor Chude during the Fall '07 term at University of California, Santa Cruz.

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Whiteness - Danielle Boudreau Race In Literature 61R Divine...

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