Reading: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs Part Four

5014673389_01cd562245smallChapter Eight: A Fair Captive from the Sky

John and Sola return from the hatchling retrieval field trip to find that some airships have turned up. The Tharks fire on the airships and there is a battle. The end result of the battle is that the airships are destroyed and the Tharks take one of the survivors of the battle prisoner. John is quite surprised to find that the prisoner is a pretty, human looking girl. A very pretty naked girl; Martians seem to be nudists for the most part.

 

The girl sees him, and thinking that John could be a potential ally, makes some sort of sign at him. John of course does not return it, because he does not understand the sign. The girl does not realize that John is a stranger in these here parts even though he does not look anything like a Red Martian. When John does not return the sign or respond, the girl becomes extremely angry and disdainful.

John of course is clueless, which is something John is very good at being.

Chapter Nine: I Learn the Language

You will probably have noticed that John tends to “talk ahead”  to narrative to events that haven’t happened yet. Then we eventually get to the chapter where the thing he narrated previously happened. This is a slightly annoying narrative device that I do not really like very much. John also has a tendency to pontificate about his expert knowledge, and there is a lot more “tell” than show.

In this chapter, John further explains everything he doesn’t like about Thark culture. He does not like that Thark women are the artisans and craft people and gunsmiths. He probably also doesn’t like that Thark women are an auxiliary fighting force.

He sees the Martian girl a few times and he feels a little sorry for her because the women guarding her are complete jerks. He sees that the girl and the Tharks share a common language, so John gets Sola to step up his language lessons. John definitely has designs on speaking to the Martian girl and his interest becomes concern when he learns that the prisoner is going to be the entertainment in some kind of gladiatorial combat event. When he hears that Sola does not want to see the prisoner get killed, John decides to see if he can get Sola to help him and the prisoner to escape.

Chapter Ten: Champion and Chief

John is present when the prisoner is interrogated by the ruler of the community, Lorquas Ptomel. The girl introduces herself as Dejah Thoris. She reports that the airships were part of a scientific expedition. She lectures the Thark leader and has a great deal of things to say about savages who attack peaceful expeditions that are intended to benefit everyone. She also goes on for some length telling the Green Martians that their culture is bad, wrong, and entirely inferior to her own.

One of the younger warriors stomps up to Dejah and hits her, knocking her to the ground. John of course leaps to her defense and kills the young warrior. Afterward, he carries Dejah to a nearby bench and tends to her injury. Dejah is astonished, since John had not returned her greeting when she had first seen him. They talk a little and we learn that John is apparently wearing the regalia and symbols of a chief, and that it is extremely rare for a prisoner to be trusted with carrying weapons. (We also learn that John does not ask the right questions because he had absolutely no clue that he was wearing anything special.)

Since John killed the warrior, John now owns all of his stuff.

Tars and John have a brief conversation where Tars warns John to be careful, and John tells Tars that he can’t boss John around, he does what he wants.

Chapter Eleven: With Deja Thoris

Dejah’s guards attempt to retrieve her, but John tells them that Sola will be taking over. He also commits a breach of etiquette when he threatens the life of one of the guards. (Men are not supposed to kill or threaten to kill women. Women are not supposed to threaten to kill or kill men.) Since he’s going to be roomies with Dejah for a while, and he’s gone up in rank, he, Dejah and Sola go looking for new quarters.

Dejah would like to know who John Carter is, and what he’s doing among the Tharks. She is at first entertaining the possibility that he might be from a distant and proscribed region of Mars. Her reason for this suspicion is that he speaks another language. (There is only one language spoken throughout most of Barsoom. The place where the other language is spoken is proscribed for religious reasons. (No one who goes to that place is ever supposed to come back, so I guess she’s asking if he’s some kind of heretic.)

John Carter assures her that he’s not from that distant and proscribed valley. He explains that he is from Earth, specifically from Virginia. Dejah is not at all surprised to find there is life on Earth. In fact, she claims that everyone on Barsoom is privy to everything that goes on there! (Because it’s right there in the sky!) They are apparently using extremely advanced technology in order to observe Earth.

Dejah and John engage in some flirting and vague plans of escape from the Tharks.

The new quarters features a mural that depicts pretty white people–the previous inhabitants of the city. We learn that there were once three races, one white, one black, and one yellow. (And of course the “white” race is the best of them all.) These three Martian races were in constant competition with each other and with intermarriages and alliances eventually created the current race of red Martians, and eventually the other races apparently disappeared.

This history lesson is interrupted by a summons from Lorquas Ptomel.

Part Three | Part Five

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