Part III Tarzan And The Jewels Of Opar: Edgar Rice Burroughs

September 25, 2009

 

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#5 Tarzan And The Jewels Of Opar

by

R.E. Prindle

Part III

From Opar To Achmet Zek’s Camp

 

     Tarzan and Werper begin the trek back to the Estate.  As Tarzan is an amnesiac that indicates that Burroughs is under stress.  What kind of stress?  As the stress involves sparkling Jewels it is therefore sexual stress.  During the stories of the Russian Quartet the personalities of Tarzan and Burroughs were much more separate and distinct.

     Success seems to now affect Burroughs so that he begins to identify himself with his great creation.  He begins to assume a dual personality.  His last Tarzan novel, Tarzan And The Madman will be a confession of his failure to realize his dream.  For now we may consider the bewildered Tarzan as the emergence of the new Burroughs while Werper represents the loser Burroughs of his first 36 years.  Bear in mind at all times that Burroughs has to tell his sotry so the apparent story has a different appearance than the allegorical story.  The jewels then represent the discovery of his submerged sexuality.

     As Werper and Tarzan are trekking they have gotten ahead of the slower moving Waziri.  The Waziri catch up to them each bearing 120 lbs. of gold or two 60 lb. ingots.  Six thousand pound or three tons of gold.  So, for a brief moment Burroughs financial success and sexual prowess are on the same spot.

     Tarzan not recognizing the jewels for what they are in his befuddled state indicates that Burroughs isn’t aware of how to take advantage of his new desirability.

     Tarzan’s first thought when he sees the Waziri is to kill them as he vaguely recalls that Kala, his ape mother, was murdered by a Black.  Werper talks him out of it.  What story lies behind Kala?

     The Waziri reach the burned out Estate, bury the gold, and go in search of Jane.  Tarzan and Werper arrive on the heels of the Waziri.

     Tarzan sees the Waziri burying the gold.  Werper tells him that the Waziri are hiding it for safe keeping.  Tarzan decides that would be an excellent thing to do with the jewels.  When he believes Werper is asleep that night he digs a hole with his father’s knife burying the jewels.

     On the ashes of his former existence then the gold representing his novels and the jewels representing his sexuality are buried.

     Werper representing Burroughs old self was not sleeping; waiting for Tarzan to sleep he digs up the jewels fleeing to the camp to  Achmet Zek and Jane.  Thus the jewels and Jane are reunited with Werper being the possessor of the jewels and hence Jane.  Fearing that Zek will murder him for the jewels in the middle of the night Werper persuades Jane to accompany him in flight thus setting up the next transfer of the jewels and Jane.

     Meanwhile Tarzan wakes up finding Werper missing and reverts back to his role as an ape, or Great White Beast.  peraps this signifies returning to his rough and rowdy ways of bachelorhood.   However La and the little hairy men have left Opar in search of Tarzan and the sacred knife.  They track him down to essentially the Estate.  Perhaps this represents a new beginning on the ashes of the old. 

     This is the first time La has been outside the gates of Opar.

     She is infuriated that Tarzan has rejected her love.  After the usual hoopla about sacrificing the Big Guy night falls.  La spends time pleading with Tarzan to return her love.  She collapses over Tarzan much as over Werper in Opar.  She lays atop Tarzan.  Remember both Tarzan and La are always nearly nude so we have a very sensual image here.  Finding Tarzan unresponsive La curls up beside Tarzan thus sleeping with him although chastely.

     The next day the sacrificial hoopla begins again.  Just as Tarzan is about to be sacrificed he hears Tantor the elephant in the distance.  He emits a cry to attract Tantor.

     As the elephant approaches Tarzan realizes that Tantor is in must, sexually aroused.  He warns La who releases him just as Tantor charges into the clearing.  Seizing La Tarzan runs up the convenient tree.  Tantor thoroughly aroused directed his lust specifically at Tarzan and La.  The tree is a large one but Tantor tries to bull it over.  Failing this the mighty beast wraps his trunk around the bole and rearing titanically actually manages to uproot the tree.

     As the tree topples Tarzan throws La on his back making a terrific leap to a lesser tree.  Tantor follows as Tarzan leaps from tree to tree.  Tantor’s attention wanders and he runs off in another direction leaving La and Tarzan.

     So what does this scene mean?  Possibly the temptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  As I said it would be highly improbable if, as a successful writer, Burroughs didn’t attract the attention of other women who would make themselves available to him.  This would place incredible stress on him making himself unable to ‘remember’ who he was, what he had been for 36 years.

     He said he walked out on Emma a number of times.  Leaving for Opar could be equivalent to walking out on Emma.  The first night with La could be the first temptation.  The elephant in must might indicate surrender to the temptation or at least a terrific struggle to avoid it.

     In any event Tarzan returns La to the little hairy men then returning to the Estate to recover the jewels.  This could be interpreted as a reconciliation.  He finds the jewels gone.  Realizing Werper stole them he sets out on the spoor to Zek”s camp.

     In the meantime Basuli wounded as he was had crawled after Zek.  Recovering his strength he returns to fighting form.  The fifty Waziri also followed after Zek.  All three parties arrive at the same time.

     Clambering over the wall as usual Tarzan discovers that both Werper and Jane were gone.  Now in pursuit of the jewels and Jane Tarzan returns to the jungle.

Part IV follows.

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