Monkey: A Folk Novel of China

Monkey: A Folk Novel of China Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Compare and contrast the role of two religions in Monkey. Do they always work in harmony? Do they have separate hierarchies? Conflicting ideologies? Do they provide sources of conflict? If so, how and why?

  2. 2

    The author of Monkey chose to write this work in the vernacular Chinese, which was seen as lower class and not fitting for works of great literary merit. With this in mind, what role do you think class plays in this novel? How might the story change if the backgrounds of the characters were altered?

  3. 3

    Through their long journey to India to retrieve the scriptures, what do the main characters (Tripitaka, Monkey, Pigsy, Sandy) learn about themselves, each other, and their own beliefs? How do they react to various circumstances?

  4. 4

    Towards the end of the story, when the pilgrims have finally reached India, they are made to pay for the scriptures before they can take them. This monetary exchange is not really addressed in the story. Why do you think this is? Does this seem out of sync with the customs of Buddhism? What might this signify? The story also doesn't address the rampant killing that goes on -- sometimes at the hands of Monkey. Is killing in the name of religion justified, then?

  5. 5

    Why do the pilgrims have to undergo so many challenges (totaling 81)? What might this signify in Buddhism? Why is the final challenge administered after the pilgrims have already crossed into Western Paradise and achieved enlightenment after seeing their bodies float away?