Kala and Tarzan
Posted by: Andrea Kalfas
Book: Tarzan of the Apes (purchase on Amazon)
Tarzan is really only fragile and vulnerable once in his life. Even when he’s a young kid he can hold his own against fully grown bull apes, so I knew I wanted to make one scene showing how fragile he once was. But this one is also a lot about Kala, Tarzan’s ape mother. Her baby has just died when she lost her grip on it in the trees and when the tribe makes its way to the Clayton’s cabin on the beach, she carries its corpse the whole way, refusing to leave it on the ground to be eaten.
As she took up the little live baby of Alice Clayton she dropped the dead body of her own into the empty cradle; for the wail of the living had answered the call of universal motherhood within her wild breast which the dead could not still.
I slowed this scene down a lot, actually. In fact, Kala has to dodge in and snatch Tarzan before Kerchak can mangle him, BUT the moment is really pivotal and I always found it really moving to read that Tarzan’s life depended on death and mourning to continue, so I thought it could use some extra time. I love the beginning of the book because it’s full of so many stirring tragic moments like this one that really defy all the silly Tarzan stereotypes out there. The book can be pretty melodramatic at times, but it’s packed with emotion, and is also really death-filled and violent! Not too Disney after all.