Monkey: A Folk Novel of China

Monkey: A Folk Novel of China Summary and Analysis of Chapters 13-20

Summary and Analysis

Chapters 13 and 14 see Tripitaka set out on his journey with his two followers only to be captured by a band of ogres as a meal. His two followers eaten, Tripitaka is saved by the Spirit of the Planet Venus, disguised as an old man. Nevertheless, Tripitaka's journey continues to be fraught with peril as he is surrounded by deadly beasts only to be saved from a tiger by a hunter after many hours of fighting, who takes him in. During his time at the hunter's home, Tripitaka prays continually which saves the hunter's deceased father from the terrible underworld he has been tormented in and allowed him to be reincarnated -- as is revealed in a dream. The hunter and Tripitaka journey to the Mountain of Two Frontiers, where the land of the Tartars lies on the other side. Suddenly, the two hear a voice saying, "The Master has come." The hunter realizes that this is the voice of Monkey, who was imprisoned beneath this mountain (once known at the Mountain of Five Elements long ago. Tripitaka frees Monkey by taking away the seal Buddha placed on top of the mountain that reads OM MANI PADME HUM.

The hunter returns home, while Tripitaka and Monkey face off with another tiger, which Monkey dispatches with his magic iron much more quickly than the hunter did. He turns the tiger's skin into clothing and the two take refuge at the house of an old man and his wife. On the road again, six robber kings besiege them; Monkey kills them, and he and Tripitaka have a falling out over whether killing is acceptable. Monkey packs his things and leaves, while Tripitaka meets Kuan-yin disguised as a kindly old woman, who gives him a magic spell to keep Monkey obedient. Meanwhile, Monkey visits the Dragon King of the Eastern Ocean, who counsels patience and self-control, leading Monkey to return to Tripitaka. Tripitaka uses the Tight Fillet on Monkey, who promises to be good and obey him, just as Kuan-yin predicted.

In Chapter 15, the two travelers have their horse eaten by a dragon. Two deities sent by Kuan-yin, Lu Ting and Lu Chia, as well as the Gold-headed Guardian, descend to guard Tripitaka while Monkey confronts the dragon. The fight ends inconclusively, and they call the Bodhisattva for help. She confronts the dragon, who makes the excuse that Monkey did not announce who he was when asked. Kuan-yin transforms the dragon into the lost horse and he carries the travelers as he promised long ago. Before leaving, Kuan-yin gives Monkey three magic hairs to get him out of any trouble, and he returns to where Tripitaka has been waiting.

In Chapter 16, the two travelers make their way to Kao Farm, where a monster named Hog Fu-ling has carried off the farmer’s youngest daughter, Blue Orchid; a good exorcist must be summoned. Monkey offers his services to the despondent Mr. Kao and frees the daughter from her outhouse prison. He then disguises himself as Blue Orchid and has the monster tell him where he is from, before revealing his true form. Monkey's reputation precedes him and the monster runs away in fear. Throughout Chapter 17, the monster continues to flee and protests his merits, until Monkey mentions they are seeking scriptures, at which point the monster reveals that he was sent to wait for them by Kuan-yin. Tripitaka does not accept any of Mr. Kao's gifts of gratitude, but the monster, Pigsy, asks for a new jacket, which he receives.

Chapter 18 follows a similar vein, where the travelers again take a creature at the River of Flowing Sands for a monster who is actually a friend converted by Kuan-yin, in this case a deity named Sandy, who was banished from Heaven for breaking a crystal dish. He helps the travelers across the enormous river by giving them nine skulls that transform into a holy ship. Tripitaka has a dream in Chapter 19 where the ghost of the king of Crow-cock visits him and tells him of his misfortunes. After a massive famine, an imposter sits on his throne, and for the past three years no one has been the wiser. The king gives Tripitaka a white jade tablet so that his loved ones will recognize it is really the king who sends this message. Tripitaka takes Monkey in a small casket to the king's son the next day while he is hunting, and Monkey recounts what happened to the prince's father. He shows him the tablet and the prince rides off to his mother for confirmation.

In Chapter 20, after showing his mother the tablet and receiving confirmation that the king has been different these last three years, the prince returns to Monkey. He asks for game to keep up the pretense that he has been hunting all day and Monkey obliges by asking his deities. Monkey worries to Tripitaka that he overstated his abilities to the prince and might not be successful in removing the imposter form his throne and asks to take Pigsy with him. The two decide to steal treasure first, with Pigsy keeping the treasure and Monkey the fame. They set off to the Imperial Flower Garden and find a watery well with the Crystal Palace of the Dragon King of the Well at the bottom. Pigsy is lowered down on Monkey's magic iron and the dragon recognizes him, and gives him the king's body, which he has preserved with a magical pearl. Frightened, and wanting real treasure, Pigsy surfaces without the corpse and demands to be taken back up. Monkey refuses until Pigsy takes the corpse too, and the two bring it to Tripitaka who wails at the sight of the deceased king. Pigsy, wanting revenge, tells Tripitaka that Monkey could perhaps revive the king if properly motivated—say, by the headache-inducing spell or the painful Fillet.