Tarzan of the Apes | Study Guide

Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Tarzan of the Apes | Chapter 22 : The Search Party | Summary

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Summary

Lieutenant Charpentier leads his men, Professor Porter, and Cecil Clayton back to the beach the next morning. The Frenchmen mourn their lost brothers, but the professor and Clayton are overjoyed to see Jane Porter. The French sailors go back to their ship, and Jane briefly talks with her father before speaking with Clayton. He expresses his delight at her safe return and calls her by her first name for the first time. She responds with quiet gratitude but refers to him as "Mr. Clayton." Jane works up the nerve to ask about Tarzan, which surprises Clayton. He wasn't aware the "forest god" saved her, and he has "a feeling of apprehension of some impending sorrow." He suggests Tarzan perhaps went back to "his own tribe—the men who attacked" the search party. Jane refuses to believe him, but Clayton persists in listing all the reasons why Tarzan can't be trusted. "He is only a beast of the jungle, Miss Porter," Clayton says.

Jane doesn't want to believe Clayton, but his words force her to examine her attachment to Tarzan and what it would be like to introduce him to polite society. The thought makes her wince, but her heart resolutely belongs to the wild man of the jungle.

The next morning 200 French sailors and Clayton go back into the forest to find Lieutenant D'Arnot. They storm Mbonga's village; "the revolvers, rifles and cutlasses of the Frenchmen crumpled the native spearmen and struck down the black archers." The battle turns into a massacre, and only the village's children and unarmed women are left alive.

Jane asks Clayton about what happened to Lieutenant D'Arnot when the search party returns to the beach the next day. He implies the natives are cannibals, and then "in sudden brutality that was as unlike Clayton as courteous consideration is unlike an ape," he tells Jane that Tarzan was probably hurrying to the feast when he left her on the beach. Jane is livid, but she calls Clayton a liar before going back into the cabin. Clayton immediately feels guilty for his words and slips an apology note under the room's sailcloth divider. It alludes to Clayton's feelings for Jane, which just makes her more depressed than before. She wishes she had never met him, and then wonders about the love note she found in the grass signed by Tarzan of the Apes, who she still hasn't met. Irritated, she wakes up Esmeralda, who is convinced they are being attacked by a hippopotamus. Jane laughs and tells her to go back to sleep.

Analysis

Jane Porter's feelings about Cecil Clayton change dramatically between the party's arrival in Africa and her safe return from the jungle. Clayton ostensibly joins the Porters on their trip as a family friend, but Jane soon figures out his motivations run deeper than that. She doesn't mind; in Chapter 18 she writes he is "the dearest fellow imaginable," and she would be happy to marry him if he were "a plain American gentleman," as she doesn't want the stigma of marrying an English lord simply for his wealth. Then she meets Tarzan. The thought of marrying Clayton seems terrible all of a sudden, and instead of being delighted by his use of her first name, she feels frightened. She tries to put them back on more neutral ground by calling him "Mr. Clayton" instead of Cecil, as she had done in the past.

Clayton is desperately in love with Jane, and before she was kidnapped he was pretty sure she felt the same way. She seems a different woman upon her return—more distant and more formal. He initially chalks this up to the stress of the ordeal she just suffered, but something in his gut tells him Jane no longer reciprocates his feelings of love. Jane's questions about Tarzan set off a jealous streak Clayton doesn't even know he has. Clayton has good reason to be jealous of Tarzan—Tarzan is everything the English gentleman isn't: fearless, strong, and ridiculously good-looking. He has also captured the heart of Clayton's beloved. Clayton knows he can't compete with Tarzan in looks or brawn, so he attempts to show Jane he is more civilized than "the ape-man." He tells Jane that Tarzan belongs "to the tribes which attacked us, or to some other equally savage—he may even be a cannibal." Clayton has no reason to think any of this (Tarzan saved his life, as well as the lives of those he cares about) but he wants Jane to see the inappropriateness of Tarzan as a romantic interest. The lies Clayton makes up about Tarzan are meant to draw Jane back to the safety of his gentlemanly embrace, but they only end up pushing him and her further apart.

Jane is angry at everyone following her return from the jungle, including herself. She doesn't want to believe the things Clayton said about Tarzan, but his words plant seeds of doubt in her mind about Tarzan's loyalties and intentions. She takes her annoyance out on the only person who isn't allowed to get mad at her: Esmeralda. Jane wakes Esmeralda just to yell at her, but Esmeralda doesn't seem to mind. She immediately jumps into "mammy mode," saying goofy things and trying to calm Jane, even though Jane is rude to her. As with every scene she's in, Esmeralda's purpose in the book is to add levity and humor, but it's always at her own expense.

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