Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
In the beginning there is a rock. The rock gives birth to a stone egg, and the egg develops into the shape of a monkey. The monkey becomes alive and plays with other monkeys. He is made their king.
One day, troubled by the thought of death, he bids farewell to the monkey tribe and sets out on a journey to seek immortality. He becomes a pupil of the Patriarch Subodhi, from whom he learns seventy-two transformations and the cloud trapeze. When he shows off his newly learned magic of transformation by changing into a pine tree, this public display of magic enrages his master, who disowns him. Monkey goes back to his cave, but now he does not have to travel over mountains and rivers. One leap carries him head over heels for 108,000 leagues.
He kills the demon who molested his “little ones” during his absence. He gets the magic iron staff from the Sea Treasury of the Dragon King. The weapon can shrink, at his will, to the size of an embroidery needle. Despite all of these powers, however, his allotted life span of 342 years comes to an end. In a dream he is taken to the Land of Darkness. Furiously, he crosses out his name in the Registers of Death, together with whatever names of other monkeys he can find.
His meddling at the Palace of the Dragon King and the Court of Death is reported to the Jade Emperor. Monkey is summoned to Heaven so that he can be constantly watched. At first he is happy to have an appointment from the emperor,...
(The entire section is 1421 words.)
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