Tarzan's parents are these aristocrats who wind up on this jungle island after ship they are on is overtaken by a mutinous crew. They have a baby and both eventually die (Tarzan's mother is sick and his father gets killed by an ape). Tarzan is taken in by a female ape who has lost her young and takes care of Tarzan instead.
However, there is one thing that I dislike about Tarzan, there is one certain aspect about him that feels very similar to Burroughs other creation: John Carter of Mars. Both John and Tarzan learn things very quickly. Tarzan learns how to read and write English through a series of books he finds in the house his parents died in. While John learns to speak telepathically just by hanging out with the Barsoomians.
If you're one of those people who cannot tolerate racism in old works, I would highly suggest staying away from Tarzan. There is a lot of comparing the natives of the island to animals. Overall, I really like Tarzan and found it quite entertaining. It's not an epic piece of literature, but I enjoyed it for the trashy book that it was. I just wish the ending wasn't so abrupt.