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Zone (play)

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Title: Zone (play)  
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Subject: Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Harry Holt (Tarzan), Jad-bal-ja, The Beasts of Tarzan
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Zone (play)

Zone is a French-language, three-act play written by French-Canadian author Marcel Dubé. It revolves around "Tarzan", a leader of a group of young criminals who sell American cigarettes illegally. The title "Zone" refers to the fact that each of the smugglers are stuck in a zone of society where it is almost impossible to escape.


Ciboulette: The main character of the play. Unloved by her parents,she is the youngest group member at 16 years of age, and also the only female in the play. She is in love with Tarzan, however does not reveal this to him until the end. She lives in a fantasy world.

Tarzan: Tarzan is the leader of the group of contrabandists. He crosses through the American border to retrieve the cigarettes, and brings them back to Quebec where his group sells them. He is also in love with Ciboulette; however he is more realistic than she is. When the time comes for him to go back to jail, Ciboulette wants them to go into the shed and get married, but he knows that she will not have a happily-ever-after with him. It is revealed during his interrogation that his real name is François Boudreau and that he is an orphan.

Passe-Partout: Passe-Partout is the traitor of the group. He is the one who accidentally leads the authorities to the shed where their illegal cigarettes are hidden. He is all too happy during the interrogation to tell the police everything he knows, and is the one who tells them that Tarzan crossed the border the day a border-control officer was killed. He has an ego problem, but he is a coward. It is revealed during his interrogation that his real name is René Langlois, and that he joined the group to provide food for his mother, because his father drinks his paycheck. He is also in love with Ciboulette, which only complicates the situation between him and Tarzan. For example, Passe-Partout tells Ciboulette, "Laisse-moi t'embrasser et je te donne tout; je te rendrai riche, je te volerai des perles, des bracelets, des colliers."[1] Translated, this means, "let me kiss you and I'll give you everything, I'll make you rich, I'll steal pearls, bracelets, and necklaces for you."

Tit-Noir: Tit-Noir is the group's accountant. It is revealed during his interrogation that his real name is Arsène Larue, and that he joined the group to get money for his future family and to study to become a priest. His nickname is "Tit-Noir" because when he was little, he had black hair, so his father called him "Petit-Noir", which eventually became "Tit-Noir"

Moineau: Moineau is the most artistic of the group. He often plays the harmonica, and joined the group so that he could become a musician. He often day-dreams off in his own little world, and is very sensitive. He likes to read comics. His name comes from the French word for sparrow, a humorous way of calling him a featherbrain. His intelligence is clearly shown several times throughout. For example, he says: "C'est vrai qu'y a toujours une ligne blanche pour séparer deux pays?"[2] roughly translated to: "Is it true there's always a white line separating two countries?".

Johny: Johny is the least seen in the play, with only two lines. In the original performance, he was played by Marcel Dubé. He drives the truck to the border with Tarzan. It is unclear whether or not he is an official member of the group, or just the chauffeur.

The Police Chief: The chief of police is only seen during the second act, which is when they interrogated the group. He has a very clever interrogation strategy, causing every member to reveal something they did not intend to tell. He has a son about the age of Tarzan, which made it harder for him to send Tarzan to jail.

Ledoux: Ledoux is the detective that follows Passe-Partout to the shed.

Roger: Roger is a police officer who is present during the interrogations. He is the most violent.


The main character, Tarzan, assembles a group of young teenagers who, under the stress of their familial or economic situations, agree sell cigarettes that he smuggles in from the United-States. Ciboulette, the youngest of the group and also the only female, is in love with Tarzan, but she does not confess her love for she doesn't want to "disrupt his thoughts". During the first act, we see that all risks are taken by Tarzan. Indeed, he is the one who risks getting caught when jumping over the American-Canadian border. While he does that, the goals of the rest of the team are first to provide for themselves an alibi, by finding a job, so that the police do not suspect them of any involvement, and secondly to look for potential clients and take orders from them for the number of cigarettes they want. Finally, they have to cover all traces of their "extra-credit" work, so that nothing can be found behind them. During this act, when we are introduced to the characters, we learn that Tarzan is late and everyone fears that he has been caught. We learn that Moineau is the keeper of the stock. He is on watch to make sure nobody gets too curious about their hiding spot. Tit-Noir keeps count of the stock, the amount they sell and the amount to deliver. Most important is the fact that everybody except Passe-Partout loves and respects Tarzan, and are very thankful to him for trying to make their lives better. Also, we learn that Passe-Partout is stealing wallets, ties and jewelry, which Tarzan had forbade him from doing as it could draw the police's attention to them. This, as was foreshadowed, is exactly what happens due to one of Passe-Partout's "victims" being the police officer, Ledoux. He follows him to their hiding spot and then orders a whole patrol to surround the building. The first act finishes as the small group tries to escape.

Act 2 begins in the interrogation room of the police station. The Chief calls in every member of the small band one at a time and through some mischievous mind tricks learns a little bit of information from each of them. After interrogating Tit-Noir, they receive a phone call informing them of the murder of a border patrol officer earlier that day. They call in Ciboulette and announce to her that they know almost everything, but just need a small detail to be satisfied. She resists them as best she can, but when the chief mentions that an American was killed that day, her face shows her surprise and fear that it was Tarzan who killed him. She faints. The chief then calls Tarzan but he doesn't betray himself, even though he comes close when the chief tells him that Ciboulette fainted. After his failure with Tarzan the chief is forced to use his last card. They learn from Passe-Partout, who was all too eager to help in exchange for a good deal, that Tarzan had crossed the border that very day. Tarzan is then brought back to the room and pressured into confessing. He soon confesses that he killed the officer. (End of Act 2)

The group goes free except Tarzan. He gets sent to jail. He manages to escape from jail and he runs away to find Ciboulette. He then confesses his affection toward her. Ciboulette suggests a makeshift marriage in the shed within the hangar. Tarzan refuses, not wanting to make his believed certain death more painful than it needs to be. Ciboulette urges him to take his chances, betting the one in a hundred odds against certain death. After dialogue between Ciboulette and Tarzan concerning their feelings for each other, Tarzan runs off into the night. Heard shortly after are several gunshots, ending in silence. Roger enters the scene, brandishing a revolver. The closing scene details Ciboulette lying over Tarzan's corpse. (End of Act 3)


  1. ^ "Zone", p.23
  2. ^ "Zone", p.30

External links

  • Hugo Therien (blog): Zone de Marcel Dubé
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