Tarzan of the Apes | Study Guide

Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Tarzan of the Apes | Chapter 24 : Lost Treasure | Summary

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Summary

Captain Dufranne, the captain of the French cruiser, wants to leave Africa as soon as the expedition to find Lieutenant D'Arnot comes back without him, but Jane Porter persuades him to stay for another week. She reasons Tarzan would have already returned if D'Arnot were dead. Because he hasn't, D'Arnot is either grievously injured or held captive in an even more remote village. The Frenchmen argue Tarzan is probably dead as well, but Jane won't hear of it, nor will she tolerate any talk of Tarzan being a member of the "savage tribe" and perhaps even a cannibal. Jane reminds the men they are judging Tarzan according to their own standards. Ordinary men like them wouldn't last a year in the jungle, but Tarzan has lived there his entire life. Jane is confident he will return with D'Arnot.

The next day Lieutenant Charpentier takes a group of men to locate the treasure buried by the mutineers of the Arrow. It's gone, and the group assumes "a party of blacks" saw the sailors burying it and then dug it up for themselves later. Professor Porter is distraught, as is Jane.

The French sailors and the Porters' group depart six days later. Jane has lost hope Tarzan will return. She's troubled by the idea he is "an adopted member of some savage tribe" and wonders if he has barbaric wives and "wild, half-cast children." Yet she can't help but love him. Before she gets on the ship, she writes him a letter and then kneels next to the cabin's bed and prays for his safety. "Had you come back for me ... I would have gone into the jungle with you—forever," she says aloud.

Analysis

Jane Porter makes a reasonable argument for staying near the cabin until Tarzan and D'Arnot return, but there's a sense the men in charge are just humoring her when they agree to stay for another week. Captain Dufranne says he and the rest of his soldiers would "willingly face death a hundred times in its most terrifying forms to deserve the tributes" of a woman half as loyal or beautiful as Jane. No matter what Jane says or does, the men around her treat her as nothing more than a pretty face. Even her father treats her that way, saying he is willing to stay on the beach a little longer to suit her "childish whims." Jane isn't a child. She's 19, and in the early 20th century that was old enough to have a husband and a family of her own. She is well educated, intelligent, and amazingly brave, which are all characteristics not expected of women from that era. The Frenchmen attribute Jane's insistence that they stay a little longer to a schoolgirl crush, completely unaware she intends to spend the rest of her life in the jungle with her mystery hero.

The only person who appears to know how Jane feels about Tarzan is Cecil Clayton, and he doesn't like it one bit. Though he is in debt to Tarzan for when Tarzan saved his life, he also desperately wants to marry Jane. That's why he spreads the rumor Tarzan is friendly with Mbonga's tribe. Where once he would have sided with Jane in anything she said, he now becomes her opponent, going so far as to side with Jane's servant rather than Jane, whom he supposedly loves. Jane can see his jealousy for what it is, and she makes it worse by talking about the "mighty muscles knotting" under Tarzan's skin, his chivalry, and his above-ordinary "physique and intelligence." She's saying Tarzan is more of a man than Clayton or any of the soldiers, and those she apologizes for inadvertently insulting them, she means every word.

Clayton's goal is to get Jane to question her allegiance to Tarzan. She does, but the outcome isn't what Clayton hoped. Jane runs through all the scenarios—Tarzan is a cannibal, or Tarzan already has several wives and children—and decides it doesn't matter. Her mind is overruled by her heart, which belongs entirely to Tarzan. She says as much to Dufranne, who doesn't completely understand her meaning when she says she will wait for him. The narrator says Dufranne would have been "very much surprised" if he had "interpreted the true meaning of the girl's words," which implies Jane isn't just talking about waiting for Tarzan in Africa. It's something more scandalous that couldn't be put into print without offending delicate sensibilities. Most likely, Jane is planning on avoiding marriage—and giving up her virginity—until she can be united with her forest god.

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