Tarzan of the Apes | Study Guide

Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Tarzan of the Apes | Chapter 27 : The Giant Again | Summary



Robert Canler visits Professor Porter in Baltimore, Maryland, to ask once more about marrying Jane Porter. He fears that Jane wants to marry Cecil Clayton, so he wants to marry her immediately. Professor Porter doesn't feel right about the match, but he promises Jane will do whatever he tells her to do. But she's not ready to marry yet. In a few days she and the professor are going to Wisconsin to live on a family farm; Clayton and Samuel T. Philander are already there.

Jane enters the room with a message for her father, and Canler invites her to stay. Professor Porter leaves the room, and Canler's tone sudden changes. He insists they get a wedding license tomorrow. Jane accuses him of "buying" her by lending her father the money for the trip to Africa, which Canler knew her father would never be able to repay. Canler replies, "I am going to have you, and that is all that interests me."

Jane manages to avoid matrimony before she and her father leave for Wisconsin. They arrive to find a newly renovated farmhouse. Jane knows Clayton paid for the renovation; she confronts him, but he insists it was all for Professor Porter. Jane says she wishes she could repay him in the manner she would like, but she loves another. Clayton knows all about Canler, but Jane insists it isn't him, though she intends on marrying him. Clayton says he can offer her a happier life, but Jane would rather be with a man she "already despised" if she is to live a lifetime of resentment and contempt.

Canler shows up a week later. He badgers Jane so much that she finally agrees to marry him at once. Canler sets out for the marriage license and the minister. Jane goes for a walk, unconcerned about the smoke that has been skirting the top of the forest for the past week. But the wind changes, spreading the wildfire to the forest surrounding the farmhouse. Jane is trapped. She kneels to say her final prayers, which are interrupted by a man's voice calling her name. A strong arm grabs her and lifts her into the trees. She looks up to see Tarzan's face. She thinks herself delirious, but Tarzan assures her it is him, her "savage, primeval man [who has] come out of the jungle to claim his mate—the woman who ran away from him."

When they are out of harm's way, they walk to Tarzan's car and drive toward the farm while discussing what happened since they last saw one another. Tarzan asks Jane if she loves him, but she can't answer him because she is "promised to another." That's answer enough for Tarzan. Janes goes on to say she is marrying Canler because her father owes him money. Tarzan implies he could beat up Canler as he did Terkoz, but Jane reminds him he is "a gentleman, and gentlemen do not kill in cold blood." Tarzan wants to know if she would marry him if she were "free." She's not sure, and she insists he will be happier without her. Marriage will only hold his interest for a little while, and soon he'll be longing for his freedom. Tarzan promises not to ask again; he wants her to be happy, and she could never be happy with "an ape." Jane tries to protest, but there's no time. Clayton's car is straight ahead.


Smart but innocent, independent but vulnerable, sexually inexperienced yet intrigued, Jane Porter is the quintessential romantic heroine of literary and pulp fiction. Her actions and words don't advance the plot of Tarzan of the Apes; she is more likely to have something done to her than to do anything herself. Her function in the story is to be an object of desire, both for the male characters in the book and the men reading it. The audience is told little about her save for her beauty and constant need of protection, and she is constantly put into situations where she is nothing more than a damsel in distress. The few times she overcomes her passivity and tries to protect herself all end with her rescue at the hands of another. She stands up to a despised suitor only to be married to another man she doesn't like, and her attempt to fend off a hungry lioness is successful only because someone else kills it. Jane's only weapons are words, which renders her nearly defenseless against both animals and men throughout the book. Her virtue and vulnerability are a common trope (or plot device) found in romance novels old and new.

Beyond her looks, Tarzan is immediately attracted to Jane's innocence and need for protection, both of which also keep her "pure" in the eyes of the reader. Female desire was a taboo but titillating topic when Tarzan of the Apes was written in the early 20th century, and audiences would have been put off by a female character's active pursuit of a man. Edgar Rice Burroughs ensures Jane is still likable by portraying her as being unsure of her feelings. "I do not know my own mind," she tells Tarzan in response to his proposal of marriage. It is fine for men to pursue her, but she cannot pursue them.

Jane's three-suitor predicament is in part her father's fault. Professor Porter borrowed money for the trip to Africa from Canler with the intent of paying him back with proceeds from the long-lost treasure. The mutineers took the treasure, rendering the professor completely broke. He can no longer afford the family home in Baltimore, which is why he and Jane are moving to Wisconsin. Professor Porter loves Jane, but she's also the only thing of value he has left. Promising her to a terrible yet wealthy man ensures her livelihood, as well as his. Jane would never let her father fall destitute if she had the means to prevent it, and she will have the means if she marries Canler. The professor knew what he was getting himself into when he borrowed the money from Canler, and he knew the repercussions of defaulting on his loan, but he went ahead and took the risk anyway. His professional reputation and a chance at enormous wealth is more important to him than his daughter's marital happiness.

Jane's happiness is far more important to Tarzan than to other characters in the book. He has learned enough about humanity in the past few months to question whether she would be happy as his wife. Out of the jungle and in civilization now, he has the same concerns as everyone else: money, social status, and employment. For the time being, all he can offer Jane is his love, and he thinks it's not enough. He's under the impression she will settle for no less than a true gentleman, and though he looks the part he knows he is "still a wild beast at heart." His self-consciousness about his past and the way people perceive him make him feel vulnerable for the first time in his life. For Tarzan, civilized society is much more threatening than the African jungle.

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