Tarzan of the Apes | Study Guide

Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Tarzan of the Apes | Chapter 25 : The Outpost of the World | Summary

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Summary

A man falls through the cabin door. It is Tarzan, whom Lieutenant D'Arnot has inadvertently shot in the head. Tarzan is still alive, and he brushes off the injury. He has suffered much worse at the paws and teeth of his wild jungle brethren. Tarzan reads Jane Porter's note, which says she wishes she could have thanked him for the use of the cabin in person. She also wanted to thank the "great white giant who wore the locket upon his breast." That man is welcome to visit her in Baltimore, Maryland, anytime he wishes. Jane ends the note by saying she is sorry Tarzan loves her, for she has given her "heart to another." Tarzan now understands Jane thinks he is two different people, but her note leaves him bereft. He thought she loved him.

After a week in the cabin Tarzan and D'Arnot can speak to each other easily, and Tarzan asks D'Arnot about America. With the help of an atlas D'Arnot tries to explain just how far it is, but Tarzan isn't bothered. He tells D'Arnot they will begin by finding the nearest white men. D'Arnot is sure such a trip will kill them, but Tarzan insists they must go. "I do not like it here longer," he tells D'Arnot. "I should rather die than remain here." D'Arnot explains the concept of money to Tarzan, who says he will work to earn enough to go to America. D'Arnot insists he has plenty of money for both of them.

They walk for a month. D'Arnot teaches Tarzan basic manners along the way, including how to eat with utensils. While they travel, Tarzan mentions the chest he took from the sailors and buried at the site of the Dum-Dum. D'Arnot tells Tarzan it belongs to Professor Porter, and Tarzan recalls the letter Jane wrote to her friend about how important the chest is. He wants to turn around and get it, which would add another six weeks to the journey. D'Arnot convinces him to keep moving forward. When they get to civilization they can rent a boat and sail down the coast to retrieve the chest. Tarzan agrees to the plan, mostly because he doesn't want anything bad to happen to D'Arnot. "When I see how helpless you are ... I often wonder how the human race has escaped annihilation all these ages," he says. D'Arnot laughs and insists "it is mind, and not muscle, that makes the human animal greater than the mighty beasts of your jungle."

Tarzan and D'Arnot talk about Tarzan's family. Tarzan still thinks Kala is his biological mother, even though D'Arnot tells him it's not possible. Tarzan, who can speak French but not read it, is still puzzled by John Clayton's diary. He shows it to D'Arnot, who reads it aloud. As he reads, he notices five wee fingerprints in the margin of one of the pages. When he's finished D'Arnot tells Tarzan he is Lord Greystoke, but Tarzan doesn't think so. The diary speaks of just one child, and there were tiny bones in the cradle when he discovered the cabin 11 years before.

A week later they stumble upon an open field where several black men are working. D'Arnot rushes to stop Tarzan from killing them. "White men do not kill wantonly," he admonishes. Tarzan doesn't understand why it's okay to kill black people in the jungle but not in civilization, but he moves toward the gardeners unarmed. They flee upon seeing him. A white man emerges from a nearby building. He nearly shoots Tarzan and D'Arnot before D'Arnot can shout they are friends. The man introduces himself as Father Constantine of the French Mission. Tarzan and D'Arnot stay with him for a week.

Analysis

Jane Porter's departure has effectively ended Tarzan's life in the jungle. He will never be happy in Africa now that he knows Jane is living halfway around the world. He's willing to give up everything familiar just for a chance to be near her. But that doesn't mean he's a completely changed man; he can use utensils but doesn't like it, and he still prefers his meat raw. Lieutenant D'Arnot wears clothes left behind in the cabin, but Tarzan still wears his loincloth. This is how he is most comfortable, and only for Jane would he change.

D'Arnot teaches Tarzan more than just manners on their journey. It is from him Tarzan learns about money and cities and "how white men act." He also teaches Tarzan the secret to human survival: intelligence and teamwork. Humans are superior to animals because they are capable of logic and rational thought. Unlike the apes who raised Tarzan, humans can plan ahead. That appears to be an instinctual trait, as Tarzan would collect as much food as he could carry but Kala would only take what she could eat at the moment, even during times of food scarcity. Even when he explained to her why, Kala could never understand why Tarzan weighed himself down with food. D'Arnot also points out humans form teams to outthink or overpower obstacles and enemies. One "normal" man couldn't survive a lion attack, but 10 men could easily subdue the wild beast. Terkoz and Kerchak could have easily killed Tarzan if they worked together, but the thought never occurred to them. Brains, not brawn, ensure human survival.

There's an unspoken caveat that D'Arnot's teachings only apply to white men and women. In Tarzan of the Apes, black people, no matter if they're "civilized" or not, are not seen as being equals to whites. D'Arnot doesn't include them when he's talking about human intelligence and reasoning. Yet he, unlike Tarzan, can discern the difference between "savage" African natives like those of Mbonga's tribe and those who have assimilated to white society, such as the gardeners at the French Mission. In the jungle, being black is an automatic signifier of violent and murderous behavior, but in civilization it is a sign of servitude. All the "civilized" black people Tarzan meets, from the farmers to the women who sew his new clothing to Esmeralda, are all in the service of white people. This is a big adjustment for Tarzan. His previous encounters with black people have all ended badly, and his instinct is to kill them upon sight. He doesn't believe a change of location or circumstance alters the inner nature of a species or race. Edgar Rice Burroughs is hinting at something here, but it isn't clear what. He either agrees with Tarzan that one's true nature is revealed by his or her exterior, or he agrees with D'Arnot that a person's intentions cannot be judged by appearances alone. It is more likely the latter, as Tarzan seems to come around to D'Arnot's way of thinking in the next chapter.

Tarzan trusts D'Arnot more than any other animal or human he has ever met. This is perhaps because D'Arnot is the first human to treat Tarzan as if he were a human himself. Tarzan knows he is a man, but he doesn't fully accept he is human. That's in part because of his unwavering belief that Kala is his biological mother. This is the root of the ape identity to which he still clings, even though logic and reason—and D'Arnot—tell him differently. He may look like a man, he may love like a man, and he may talk like a man, but Tarzan still worries he will someday turn into an ape. His heritage leads to a newfound sense of self-consciousness about his past and what it means for his future.

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