The Book of Sawce, Chapter 3 – A Book That Became a Movie

3 Tarzan of the Apes

*Insert Tarzan yell here*

Well, I took out the third book in the reading challenge pretty fast, but boy, it was hard to find one.  “A book that became a movie” is such a narrow category.  Talk about slim pickings!  I mean, what all is there to choose from?  Battlefield Earth?  Divergent?  I Know What You Did Last Summer?  I didn’t want to read any of those or their ilk!  Finally, though, after countless hours of research, I chanced upon one that would do just fine.  Edgar Rice Burroughs’s first novel about the young boy left orphaned in the wilds of Africa, Geroge of the…no, wait a minute.  Ah, yes!  Tarzan of the Apes.

I think everyone knows the setup of this one.  Couple gets stranded in the jungle, couple dies, and their son is raised by apes.  This story is so ubiquitous in our culture, everyone knows Tarzan even if they’ve never read or watched any works about him.  So yeah, not entirely sure why I went with this one.  I knew the story already.  Tarzan, Jane, Kala, and all the others are old friends of mine.  So, surely there’s nothing to it of which I wasn’t already aware, right?  Wrong.

This book is dark.  Tarzan doesn’t just kill lions, boars, apes, and other denizens of the jungle.  Tarzan kills people.  Tarzan hangs people.  Mostly black people.  The hanging is more of an unfortunate implication of what would happen in the real world, so I don’t think ERB had any malice in his mind when he wrote them.  Those scenes are still pretty damn uncomfortable to read, though.  Granted, this particular tribe is savage and one of them killed his mother (Kala, not the human one), but still.  You can also make the justification that he sees anything in his jungle as prey, and I can kinda accept that.  After all, he does learn his lesson by the end.  And, some of the morbid pranks he pulled on this particular tribe were pretty amusing.

His fights with the other creatures are awesome and violent.  I loved the parts when he went toe-to-toe (or toe-to-paw) with Sabor, Kerchak, Tublat, and various others.  They beat the hell out of each other!  Tarzan also kills them.  Most of them, at least.  He initially let Tublat (his foster ape dad) live by making him submit to the full-Nelson hold, which he accidentally discovered.  Tublat didn’t survive the rematch, though.  He went after Jane, and we all know how Tarzan feels about Jane.

Speaking of Jane, the ending for the book caught me off guard.  Spoiler alert for those actually want to read this:  Jane marries someone else.  I honestly didn’t expect it.  Not only that, she marries the guy who just so happens to hold Tarzan’s English title and lands!  Yeah, Tarzan is the son of Lord Greystoke, but since he and his family went missing, Tarzan’s uncle became Lord Greystoke and now his son–Tarzan’s cousin–holds that title.  Granted, Jane agrees to marry the guy out of obligation, and I think he dies in the very next book (there are 24 in the series!).  Still caught me off guard.  And, to really drive home how great a guy Tarzan is, he has the opportunity to legally reclaim his family’s wealth but doesn’t do it because he wants Jane to be happy.

Oh, about Tarzan’s great guy-ness–he’s overpowered.  It’s actually pretty funny how much better he is than every other character in the book.  Like, he’s not just faster and stronger and more handsome than the average man.  He’s faster and stronger and more handsome than Olympic-level athletes.  The way he’s written–and seriously, no joke here–he could probably fight Steve Rogers to a stalemate.  Legit.

But yeah, that’s it for this installment.  Thankfully, I got done with this book much quicker than I expected, so I can hopefully knock out the next one soon.  Next up is a book published this year.  That one will actually be pretty hard to find since I can’t think of any that have come out in these first 42 days I want to read.  Anyhoo, I’m sure I’ll find one.  What will it be?  Stay tuned to find out.

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