Cheetah rescues the baby from a pack of hyenas, and brings him to Tarzan (Johnny Weismuller) and Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan).
They name him “Boy” (John Sheffield) and adopt him.
But Jane boasts concerns about what kind of life she and Tarzan can provide for Boy in the jungle.
Here, Tarzan and Jane get a child, Boy, and arrive, essentially, as a full-fledged nuclear family.
It sounds pretty desperate from a creative standpoint, adding a child to this Garden of Eden setting, but the scenes of Tarzan and his son in the film, swinging vines together, are actually pretty affecting. Tarzan clearly loves his son, and would do anything for him.
First, Jane makes a terrible mistake – and deceives Tarzan.
Originally (at least before preview audiences), she was to die for this trespass, via that pointy native spear in her back. Fortunately, that harsh ending was re-considered and Jane allowed to live, but still, Jane acts dreadfully towards Tarzan, capitalizing on his innocence and loyalty to trick him.
In a later film, Tarzan’s New York Adventure (1942), she makes another mistake regarding the boy that nearly costs the family custodianship of him. It’s almost like the producers of the series are trying to undercut or back-peddle the "strong and capable" character that Jane was, from the start, from 1932.
I won't mince words. I love that this heroic, courageous, iconic man has no time or patience for guns, because they are just used to “kill animals.” Once more, Tarzan seems far more evolved than many people do today, who want to carry guns in airplanes, in schools, and in church. Tarzan seems to get the idea that once a gun is in the picture, chaos erupts. Adding guns to an unstable situation rarely makes that situation more stable.
A white man shoots a mother elephant. Tarzan exclaims with anger: “Guns! White people!” and then must watch as the mother elephant leaves behind her child, alone in the jungle, for the elephant graveyard.
The implicit message here is that guns too often separates mothers from their children, and have no place of value, even in the jungle.
Rather, he seems quite physically-adept, and has an easy grace on camera. Sure, “Boy” is a device to get Tarzan into trouble, but one could make the same argument of Cheetah, or Jane for that matter, I suppose. It's sort of lame that the studio thought Tarzan needed a son so soon, but if he has to have a son, he could not have a better one.
Jane pops up from her bloody back wound, and kisses Tarzan. All is forgiven, and off they go, with Boy on their elephants.