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Old 04-21-2020, 11:51 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
I don't know if that comes through in this first book. There's the line about Leopold, but I'm not remembering anything in particular that indicates the evil of supposedly civilized people, especially the people that Tarzan interacts with.

Okay, there's the mutineer who shoots another mutineer in the back--Tarzan sees that, I think--but are there other examples that could be called really ruthless and heartless--worse than the savagery of the jungle, which is pretty darn savage!
First, I am not trying to suggest the book is free of prejudice, that would be silly. But nor is the book exclusively black is bad, white is good. In part, Tarzan's animal heritage muddies the perspective, with references back to the animal kingdom he grew up in, and to good apes like Kala or bad apes like Terkoz, but it goes further than that...

The context for this quote are the cannibals, but we don't know that yet, moving into Tarzan's domain. But note that the description does not distinguish one sort of man from another when equating man to a pestilence.
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With man it is different. When he comes many of the larger animals instinctively leave the district entirely, seldom if ever to return; and thus it has always been with the great anthropoids. They flee man as man flees a pestilence.
When Tarzan first meets white men there are many descriptions of the sailors as evil and villainous - and worse: they are cowardly. (Cowards get a pretty bad rap in this story.)
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There were ten men, swarthy, sun-tanned, villainous looking fellows.
[...]
They were evidently no different from the black men—no more civilized than the apes—no less cruel than Sabor.
[...]
And so, while Jane Porter and Esmeralda were barricading themselves within the cabin, the cowardly crew of cutthroats were pulling rapidly for their ship in the two boats that had brought them ashore.
Then there is an odd scene as D'Arnot and Tarzan come out of the jungle. Tarzan had apparently come to equate "black men" and cannibals, but D'Arnot gives Tarzan a new perspective:
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"They will try to kill us if they see us," replied Tarzan. "I prefer to be the killer."
"Maybe they are friends," suggested D'Arnot.
"They are black," was Tarzan's only reply.
And, of course, they turn out to be (relatively) friendly.

Then there is Robert Canler forcing himself on Jane, and who later shows himself to be a coward. The text deliberately brings Terkoz to mind during the confrontation, essentially equating the behaviour of Canler with that ape.


A great many quotes could be given to demonstrate prejudice exists in the text, but I think the points above demonstrate it is not entirely one sided. For the most part I see the attitudes as no worse that I would expect of heroic fiction of that era.
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Old 04-22-2020, 02:25 PM   #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
First, I am not trying to suggest the book is free of prejudice, that would be silly. But nor is the book exclusively black is bad, white is good. In part, Tarzan's animal heritage muddies the perspective, with references back to the animal kingdom he grew up in, and to good apes like Kala or bad apes like Terkoz, but it goes further than that...

The context for this quote are the cannibals, but we don't know that yet, moving into Tarzan's domain. But note that the description does not distinguish one sort of man from another when equating man to a pestilence.

When Tarzan first meets white men there are many descriptions of the sailors as evil and villainous - and worse: they are cowardly. (Cowards get a pretty bad rap in this story.)

Then there is an odd scene as D'Arnot and Tarzan come out of the jungle. Tarzan had apparently come to equate "black men" and cannibals, but D'Arnot gives Tarzan a new perspective: And, of course, they turn out to be (relatively) friendly.

Then there is Robert Canler forcing himself on Jane, and who later shows himself to be a coward. The text deliberately brings Terkoz to mind during the confrontation, essentially equating the behaviour of Canler with that ape.

A great many quotes could be given to demonstrate prejudice exists in the text, but I think the points above demonstrate it is not entirely one sided. For the most part I see the attitudes as no worse that I would expect of heroic fiction of that era.
I don't necessarily disagree with anything you've said and documented, but what it comes down to is that white people are either good or bad, largely based on social status (Canler is an exception), while black people are either bad or ignorant (Black Michael might be an exception). (I don't remember the specifics of the noncannibalistic tribe.)

On a par with other fiction from that era? I don't know. The books I've read from the early 20th century seem to either ignore black people entirely or include a jolly black household servant akin to Esmeralda.
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Old 04-22-2020, 02:30 PM   #63
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Wasn’t the cannibal tribe established as a village in the jungle because they escaped and ran away from poor treatment by white civilization? Then there were the comments about the harshness of Leopold II’s rule and the Belgian soldier behavior.
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Old 04-22-2020, 08:00 PM   #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
I don't necessarily disagree with anything you've said and documented, but what it comes down to is that white people are either good or bad, largely based on social status (Canler is an exception), while black people are either bad or ignorant (Black Michael might be an exception). (I don't remember the specifics of the noncannibalistic tribe.)

On a par with other fiction from that era? I don't know. The books I've read from the early 20th century seem to either ignore black people entirely or include a jolly black household servant akin to Esmeralda.
I didn't think Black Michael was actually black. I figured maybe Irish, only because of the fairly common description "black Irish" and there was one "D'ye understand?" in his speech which may or may not mean anything.

I thought Esmeralda seemed a fairly clear case of either race or class prejudice (or both) - and somewhat over the top.

This book couldn't realistically ignore the existence of the African population in Africa, but I didn't find it at all surprising that it found no room for presenting a heroic version of any of the cannibal villagers, nor others that are met oh-so-briefly later.

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Originally Posted by Bookworm_Girl View Post
Wasn’t the cannibal tribe established as a village in the jungle because they escaped and ran away from poor treatment by white civilization? Then there were the comments about the harshness of Leopold II’s rule and the Belgian soldier behavior.
Correct.
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Old 04-23-2020, 12:15 PM   #65
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Then there were the comments about the harshness of Leopold II’s rule and the Belgian soldier behavior.
From the perspective of distant hindsight, the rule of Leopold II was certainly not the only problematic rule of Africa, but arguably one of the worst. And we've already read one book in the old MR Book Club on that period, Heart of Darkness. A book I found extremely difficult to read.
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