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Volume 2859c
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
R.E. Prindle
#5: Tarzan And The Jewels Of Opar
Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
Part IV
From Achmet Zek’s Camp To The Recovery Of The Jewels
     The nature of the story changes from the departure of Werper and Jane from Achmet Zek's camp .  To that point the story had been developed in a linear fashion.  From Zek's camp on ERB either loses control of his story or changes into an aggregation of scenes between the camp and the Estate leading to the return.  Perhaps there is a modification in his psychology.

     The struggle for the possession of the jewels and the woman continues unabated.  As always Burroughs tries to construct a story of many surprising twists and turns.  This may be an influence of the detective story, Holmes, on him.  He may be trying to emulate Doyle.

     The problem of who the characters represent in ERB's life becomes more difficult to determine.  Werper continues as ERB's failed self.  I think as relates to Zek and the jewels, Zek represents Burroughs' old sexual competitor, Frank Martin, while Zek, the gold and the Abyssinians represent the deal between McClurg's  and in 1914-15, A. L. Burt.  Burt first had the reprint rights to Tarzan Of The Apes, published in the summer of 1914.  Those rights shortly passed to Grossett and Dunlap.

     In my estimation Martin never ceased interfering with Burroughs' marriage, at least from 1900 to 1919 when Burroughs fled Chicago.  We suspect that Martin tried to murder Burroughs in 1899 and that his pal, R.S. Patchin, looked up Burroughs in LA after the divorce in 1934 and sent a mocking condolence letter in 1950 when Burroughs died and after Martin had died sometime earlier.  Patchin would obviously have been directed by Martin to taunt Burroughs in '34.  It's clear then that Martin carried a lifelong grudge against Burroughs because of Emma.

     Martin is thus portrayed as being in competition with Burroughs in 1914-15 and possibly, but probably to a lesser extent, in LA.

     Jane is shown being captured by Zek twice in the story.  Thus Emma was courted or captured by Martin when Burroughs was in Arizona and Idaho.  In this story Jane is captured while Tarzan is absent in Opar.  The second capture or courting by Martin is diffiicult to pinpoint by the inadequate information at our disposal, but following the slender lead offered by the novelist, John Dos Passos, in his novel The Big Money I would think it might be in 1908 when ERB left town for a few weeks or months probably with Dr. Stace.  It was of that time that the FDA (Federal Food And Drug Administration) was after Stace for peddling his patent medicines.  Burroughs was probably more deeply involved with that than is commonly thought.  At any rate his being out of town would have provided an opportunity for Martin.  Whether something more current was going on I don't find improbable but I can’t say.

     I would also be interested to learn whether there was any connection between McClurg's and Martin.  Martin was Irish, his father being a railroad executive, which explains the private rail car at his disposal, as were, of course, the McClurgs and so was the chief executive Joe Bray.  If Martin knew Bray he might have pressured Bray to reject publication of Tarzan doing a quick turnaround when interest was shown by the Cincinatti firm.  Martin then might have meddled with Burroughs' contract with McClurg's.  The contract and McClurg's attitude is difficult to understand otherwise.

The gold is buried, which Zek is supposed to have gotten through Werper, then they have a falling out and Werper is captured by Mourak and his Abyssinians. Mourak would then represent A.L. Burt and a division of the the royalties. If McClurg's had promoted Tarzan Of The Apes, which they didn't, Burroughs would have received 13 cents at $1.30 per copy. Thus at even 100,000 or 200,000 copies he would have received 13,000 or 26,000 dollars. that would have been a down payment on his his yacht. Martin who must have thought of Burroughs as a hardcore loser from his early life would have been incensed by such good fortune.

      Instead, it doesn't appear that McClurg's even printed the whole first edition of 15,000 copies.  The book immediately went to A.L. Burt where the price of the book was reduced to 75 or 50 cents with the royalty much reduced to 4 1/2 cents divided fifty-fifty between McClurg's and Burroughs.  It's hard to believe that ERB wasn't robbed as he certainly thought he had been.  Thus when Mourak unearths the gold he is settling for a portion of the hoard when Zek's men show up and the battle necessary for the story begins.

     In this manner the key issues of gold, jewels and woman are resolved.

     So, Werper with the jewels goes in search of Jane to find that she has already fled Zek's camp.  The scenes of the story now take place between the camp, perhaps representing McClurg's offices and the Estate, representing Burroughs.

      The latter half of the book, pages 81-158 in the Ballantine paperback is very condensed, in a dream-like fashion.  The action within the very prescribed area with a multitude of people and incidents is impossible except as a dream story.  The appearance of the Belgian officer and askaris must have been photoshopped it is so impossible.  In other words, then, the whole last half of the book, if not the whole book, is a dream sequence in which dream logic prevails.  I will make an attempt to go into late nineteenth century dream speculation in Part V.

     A key point of the story is the regaining of the memory of Tarzan.  This occurs near story's end on page 139 and following.  It's fairly elaborate.  In connection with his memory return I would like to point out the manner of his killing the lion when he rescues Jane from Mourak's boma.  The roof fell on Tarzan in imitation of his braining in Toronto, while now he picks up a rifle, swinging it on the rearing lion's head, splintering the stock along with the lion's skull so that splinters of bone and wood penetrate the brain while the barrel is bent into a V.  Rather graphic implying a need for vengeance.  Not content with having the roof fall on Tarzan's head while trying to escape the Belgian officer, an askari lays him out with a crack to the back of the head but 'he was unhurt.'  One can understand how Raymond Chandler marveled.  My head hurts from writing about it.  Also Chulk has his head creased by a bullet adding another skull crusher to the story.

     The description of the return of Tarzan's reason seems to fit exactly with Burroughs' injury.  I would have to question whether Burroughs himself didn't have periods of amnesia.  P. 139:

Vaguely the memory of his apish childhood passed slowly in review -- then came a strangely tangled mass of faces, figures and events that seemed to have no relation to Tarzan of the Apes, and yet which were, even in this fragmentary form, familiar.

Slowly and painfully recollection was attempting to reassert itself, the hurt brain was mending, as the course of its recent failure to function was being slowly absorbed or removed by the healing process of perfect circulation.

     According to medical knowledge of his time the description seems to apply to his own injury.  His own blood clot had either just dissolved or was dissolving.  Then he says almost in the same manner as in The Girl From Farris's:
The people who now passed before his mind's eye for the first time in weeks were familiar faces; but yet he could neither place them in niches they had once filled in his past life nor call them by name.
     In this hazy condition he goes off in search of the She he can't remember clearly.  His memory fully returns as he has Werper by the throat who calls him Lord Greystoke.  That and the name John Clayton bring Tarzan fully back to himself.  For only a few pages at the end of the book does he have his memory fully recovered.

     In order to summarize the rest I have had to outline the actions of the main characters for, as with Tarzan and his memory, the story is one of 'a strangely tangled mass of faces, figures and events.'  Whether this is artistry on Burroughs' part or a dream presentation I am unable to ascertain for certain.    Let's call it artistry.

     We will begin with Werper's activities.  While Tarzan promised to retrieve La's sacred knife Werper appears to no longer have it as it disappears from the story.  When Werper escaped from Zek, unable to locate, Jane he heads East into British territory.  He is apprehended by one of Zek's trackers.  On the way back a lion attacks the Arab unhorsing him.  Werper mounts the horse riding away directly into the Abyssinian camp of Mourak.  Mugambi is captured at the same time.  While the troop bathes in a river Mugambi discovers the gems managing to exchange them for river pebbles.  Werper tempts Mourak with the story of  Tarzan's gold.  While digging the gold they are attacked by Zek and his men.  Werper rides off as Mourak is getting the worst of the fight.  Zek rides after him.  Werper's horse trips and is too exhausted to rise.  Using a device that ERB uses in one of his western novels Werper shoots the horse of the following Zek, crouching behind his own for cover.  Zek has lost the woman but now wants the jewels.  Werper hasn't the woman  while unknown to himself he neither has the jewels.  In exchange for his life he offers Zek the pouch of river stones believing it contained the jewels.  Zek accepts.  Both men are treacherous.  Werper waits to shoot Zek but Zek out foxes him picking up the bag by the drawstring with his rifle barrel from the security of the brush.

     Discovering the pebbles he thinks Werper has purposely deceived him stalking down the trail to finish him off.  Werper is waiting and pots him with his last shell.  As Zek falls, the woman, Jane, appears as if by a miracle reuniting the two.  Could happen I suppose but definitely in dreams.

     So, what are the two men fighting over?  The sex interest as the jewels are involved.  Who do Werper and Zek represent?  Obviously Burroughs and Martin.  The stones are false, but as Werper disposes of Zek in the competition for the woman Jane appears as if by magic to run to Werper/Burroughs with open arms.

     Werper with Jane returns to Zek's camp now under the direction of Zek's lieutenant, Mohammed Beyd.  Rigamarole and Werper deposit Jane in a tree from whence he expects to retrieve her on the following morning.  The next day she is gone.

     Werper once again turns East.  He is spotted by Tarzan riding along.  The Big Guy falls from a tree throwing Werper to the ground demanding to know where his pretty pebbles are.  It is at this point Werper recalls Tarzan to his memory by calling him Lord Greystoke.  Also at the moment the Belgian officer appears from nowhere, having miraculously ascertained Werper's whereabouts, to arrest him.

     Tarzan wants Werper more than the Belgian, so tucking his man under his arm he breaks through the circle of askaris.  On the point of success he is brought down from behind.  Another thwack on the head.  Apparently in a desperate situation Tarzan hears voices from the bush.  The Great Apes have their own story line but here it is necessary to introduce them as Tarzan's saviors.  The voice is from Chulk who Tarzan sends after the troop.  They attack routing the Africans.  In the process Chulk, who is carrying the bound Werper, is shot.  If you remember, Chulk stole the stones from Mugambi, or maybe I haven't mentioned that yet.  Werper falls across him in such a way that his hands bound behind his back come into contact with the pouch.  Werper quickly recognizes what the bag contains although he has no idea how the ape came by them.

     He then advises Tarzan where he left Jane.  The two set out when the furore in Mourak's camp reaches his ears.  "Jane might be involved," says Werper.  "She might," says Tarzan, telling Werper to wait for him while he checks.

     Werper waits not, disappearing into the jungle where his fate awaits him.

     Those are the adventures of only one character in this swirling vortex of seventy some pages.

     Let's take Mugambi next as he is the key to the story of the jewels yet plays a minor role.  After crawling after Jane and regaining his strength he arrives at Zek's camp at the same time as Tarzan and Basuli but none are aware of the others.  Werper and Jane have already escaped when Tarzen enters the camp to find them missing. Mugambi follows him later also finding both missing.  He goes in search of Jane.  He walks through the jungle ludicrously calling out 'Lady’'after each quarter mile or so.   Leathern lungs never tiring he shouts Lady into the face of Mourak and is captured.  Being a regular lightfoot he escapes, having lifted the jewels from Werper.  Chulk then lifts them from him, Mugambi disappears until story's end.

      Let's see:  Jane next.  Jane along with the jewels is the key to the story.  The jewels represent the woman as man's female treasure.  Jane is the eternal woman in that sense.  The various men's attitude toward the jewels reflects their own character.  Thus, Tarzan in his amnesiac simplicity wants the jewels for their intrinsic beauty.  He rejected the uncut stones for the faceted ones in Opar.  Even in the semi darkness of the vaults, or in other words, his ignorance, he perceived the difference.

     Werper at various times thinks he can get the gold, the jewels and the woman at once.  He is happy to settle for the jewels taking them to his grave.  Mourak knowing nothing of the jewels is willing to settle for a few bars of gold.  When he takes the woman into his possession it is for the sole purpose of a bribe to his Emperor to mitigate his overall failure.  Not at all unreasonable.

     Zek is too vile to consider as a human being dying in the fury of losing all.  Mugambi and Basuli are happy in their devotion to the woman to whom neither jewels or gold mean anything.

     Tarzan then, pure in soul and spirit wins it all, woman, jewels, and gold.  One is tempted to say he lived happily forever after but, alas, we know the trials ahead of him.

     So Jane is carried off to Zek's camp where all the action is centred while she is there.  Both Tarzan and Mugambi show up to rescue her but she has escaped just ahead of Werper who would thus have had the woman and the jewels.  Alone in the jungle she once again falls into Zek's hands -- that is to say those of Frank Martin.

      Now, Tarzan, who has fallen in with a troop of apes chooses two, Taglat and Chulk, to help him rescue Jane from Zek.  Chulk is loyal, but Taglat is an old and devious ape, apparently bearing an old grudge against Tarzan, who intends to steal Jane for his own fell purposes much worse than death.

     In Tarzan's attempt to rescue Jane, Taglat succeeds in abducting her.  He is in the process of freeing her bonds when a lion leaps on him.  In the succeeding battle Jane is able to escape the lion who had just killed Taglat.

      Wandering through the jungle she hears shots, the voices of men.  Approaching the noise she discovers Werper and Zek fighting it out.  She climbs a tree behind Werper.  When he shoots Zek he hears a heavenly voice from above congratulating him.  Jane runs to him hands outstretched.   So now Werper has the woman again while believing he can retrieve the jewels.  He can't find them because unbeknownst to him Mugambi had substituted river rocks.

      Improbably, except in a dream, he returns to Zek's camp where he has to solve the problem of Zek's second in command, Mohammed Beyd.  Werper spirits Jane out of the camp but finds her gone the next morning.  She had mistaken Mourak and his Abyssinians for Werper.  Mourak, now in possession of the woman, but with no gold no jewels, thinks to redeem himself with his Emperor, Menelik II, with this gorgeous female.

     During that night's camp the boma is attacked by hordes of lions.  Lions play an amazingly central role in this story.  Interestingly this scene is replicated almost exactly in the later Tarzan and the City Of Gold.  In Jewels Tarzan rescues a woman while in Gold Tarzan rescues a man.  That story's woman becomes his enemy.

     But now Tarzan and Werper hear the tremendous battle with Tarzan entering the boma to rescue Jane.  By the time of the rescue Tarzan has regained the woman and the gold but lacks the jewels.

     Unless I’m mistaken we now have only Tarzan and the apes to account for.

     ERB's life was at a turning point.  At this stage in his career he must have realized that he would have a good annual income for the rest of his life.  If only 5000 copies of the first edition of Tarzan of the Apes sold he would have received $6,500.00  Add his magazine sales to that and other income and 1914 must have equaled his income of 1913 or exceeded it.  His income probably grew until he was earning c.$100,000 per year for three years from 1919-1922.  So he had every reason to believe the world was his oyster through the teens.  That must have been an exhilarating feeling.  A sense of realization and power must have made him glow.  But the period was one of transition, a casting off of the old skin, while growing into the new.  Thus one sees ERB abandoning his old self - Werper - while attempting to assume the new in Tarzan.  Thus in death, Werper transfers the jewels, call them the Family Jewels,  from himself to Tarzan.

     Tarzan begins the novel as an asexual being unaware of what jewels were or their value and receives them at the end of the novel as a release from emasculation or awareness of his sexual prowess.  Once again Werper fades in the novel, while Tarzan, unaware of who he is comes to a full realization.  Presumably Burroughs thinks he is able to assume his new role as 1915 ends.

     In the novel when Tarzan realizes Werper has stolen the jewels he goes off in search of this symbol of his manhood.  Werper is not in Zek's camp.  On the trail Tarzan comes across the dead body of the Arab sent after Werper with his face bitten off.  He assumes this is Werper but can't find the jewels.  Wandering about he discovers a troop of apes and he decides to run with them for a while.  Selecting Chulk and Taglat he goes back to Zek's camp to rescue Jane.  At that point Taglat makes off with Jane.  Discovering Zek and Werper on the way to the Estate Tarzan becomes involved in the battle between Zek and Mourak.  He sees Zek take the jewels and then throw them to the ground as worthless river rocks.

      He encounters Werper in the jungle again and, prompted by the man, fully regains his memory only to have Werper arrested by the Belgian police officer.  The battle between Mourak and the lions ensues.  Tarzan goes to rescue Jane, Werper goes to his death.

     The unarmed Tarzan faces a rampant lion.  Picking up an abandoned rifle he brains the lion, apparently in vengeance for all the indignities and injuries ERB has suffered in life.

     Leaping with Jane into a tree they begin the journey back to the Estate to begin life anew.  Some time later they come across the bones of Werper to recover the jewels and make the world right.

     The novel closes with Tarzan's exclamation.

         "Poor devil!" …Even in death he has made restitution - let his sins lie with his bones."
     Was Burroughs speaking of Werper as his own failed self?  I believe so. Remember that a favorite novel of ERB was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and that he believed that every man was two men or had two more or less distinct selves.  Human duality is one of the most prominent themes in the corpus; thus ERB himself must have believed that he had a dual personality.  Tarzan will have at least two physical doubles, one is Esteban Miranda in Golden Lion and Ant Men, and the other Stanley Obroski in Lion Man.  Both were failed men as Werper is here.  Both obviously represented the other or early Burroughs as Werper does here.

     In killing Werper ERB hoped to eliminate the memory of his failed self as he did with Obroski in Lion Man.  In other words escape his emasculation and regain his manhood.

     The jumbled and incredibly hard to follow, or at least, remember, last half of the book with its improbable twists and turns in such a compressed manner gives the indication that this is a dream story.  Only dream logic makes the story comprehensible if still unbelievable.  The story then assumes fairy tale characteristics that don't have to be probable to be understood as possible.

     Can be genius, can be luck.  I will examine Burroughs novels in relation to dreams in Part V.  This part will not be as comprehensive as I would like but time grows short and it is better to make the attempt as not.

     Part V follows.

The lion dragged the helpless Arab from his saddleThere was a sharp report, and Mohammed Beyd rolled over and over upon the floor.Strong fingers were at his throat, fingers of steel.

R.E. Prindle's Review of
ERB's Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar

Part 1: On The Road To Opar
Part 2: Reliving Past Crimes And Humiliations
Part 3: From Opar To Achmet Zek's Camp
Part 4: From Achmet Zek’s Camp To The Recovery Of The Jewels
Part 5: Conclusion

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