An Analysis of The Other in All of Us, As Evoked by E.R. Burroughs' Tarzan

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An Analysis of The Other in All of Us, As Evoked by E.R. Burroughs' Tarzan

Human nature is one of self-awareness. Because of that awareness, it is necessary for us to define ourselves by looking at the world around us and deciding what groups we fall into, and what groups we do not. Those groups we feel a part of become a safe haven, and those groups we feel separated from are seen as foreign, exotic, dangerous, or even subhuman. “The Other” must exist for human beings to define themselves individually. Our recognition of our differences in relation to others gives us our humanity and our individuality. But our curiosity about The Other still remains. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel, Tarzan, is a discourse on our
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Readers are reborn with the birth of Tarzan. They grow up with him, and so experience his world first hand. Their instruction is key, because it is through Tarzan’s eyes that readers look upon the world of civilization when it arrives, and they will only be able to see that world skeptically if they have first been led away from it. We read of little Tarzan learning to walk and climb, and we recognize our own humanity when little Tarzan “commenced to realize that a great difference existed between himself and his fellows,”(39).

When Tarzan compares himself to his companion in the reflection of a pond, his feelings of inadequacy are easily compared with our own feelings from adolescence. At this junction, Tarzan realizes his own “otherness,” and begins to pull away from the ape tribe. He escapes death at the paws of Sabor by virtue of his otherness. Instead of freezing in fear at her scream, he immediately leaps into the water, since “life amidst the dangers of the jungle had taught him to meet emergencies with self-confidence, and his higher intelligence resulted in a quickness of mental action far beyond the power of the apes,” (41). When Tarzan learns to read, the final door is closed, and he is isolated in his own world, separated from the apes. Tarzan realizes that there are others of his own kind out there. He becomes disdainful of the “lesser” creatures, and is now “proud of his sleek skin for it betokened his descent from a mighty race,”

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