How did the protagonist change in Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The protagonist or the major character in this novel is Tarzan, who changes throughout the story, starting off as a tiny and weak baby and going on to develop into a strong adult.

After a mutiny on a ship, Tarzan’s human parents are abandoned at an island where Tarzan is born. Tarzan’s mother later died and his father is killed by an ape. One of the female apes adopted Tarzan and became a mother to the boy. At this age Tarzan was frail but as time went on Kala, Tarzan’s ape mother, took care of the boy and he grew strong. To survive among the much stronger animals of the jungle, Tarzan had to not only develop physical strength but also mental abilities which he did progressively. This can be seen through his roping skills that he used to torment Kala’s husband. Tarzan also grew to develop his survival instincts as seen when he decided to swim to escape Sabor.

In adulthood and after the loss of Kala, Tarzan met with the first white people. Tarzan took interest in Jane Porter, a white woman, among the group of white people he encountered. He later learned about civilization and even studied French under the guidance of a French Naval officer. Tarzan is then informed that Jane Porter has developed an intimate relationship with his cousin William. At the time, William is the administrator of Tarzan’s family estate. However, Tarzan does not pursue the property even after his true identity is established because of his love for Jane. In the story, Tarzan is born a normal human boy but is brought up by a family of apes and later as an adult, he gets in touch with his human nature and emotions.

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Tarzan of the Apes

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