The Journey to the West

by Wu Cheng'en

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Student Question

What events occur in chapters 20 and 21 of The Journey to the West?

Quick answer:

The group begins to ascend the Yellow Wind Ridge and gets into trouble with a whirlwind. With Sanzang taken away by the wind, they begin to fight the monster that took him away.

Expert Answers

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In The Journey to the West, Chapter 20 begins with the Tang priest encountering trouble on the Yellow Wind Ridge. Sanzang has been traveling with his followers for half a day when they reach the mountain. A whirlwind forms and Monkey remarks that it smells like a "tiger" or "monster wind." A striped tiger soon attacks the group and Pig confronts the beast. The tiger sheds its skin and transforms into a hurricane, carrying Sanzang off while he is reciting his meditations.

Chapter 21 begins as the wind monster takes a captured Sanzang to the Yellow Wind Cave in the Yellow Ridge. Sanzang is bound and offered up to the monster's leader as a meal. Monkey soon learns where Sanzang is being held and challenges the Yellow Wind Monster to a fight. After dozens of rounds of intense fighting, the Great Sage and the monster find themselves evenly matched. Monkey plucks out a hair, chews it into many smaller pieces, and transforms each piece into a clone of himself. Multiplied by a hundred, Monkey's army becomes a formidable threat to the monster.

The battle takes a turn when the wind monster releases a large yellow hurricane on the group. The hurricane catches Monkey's clones up in the air and makes it impossible for them to fight. Monkey finally recovers but discovers that the Bodhisattva Lingji is the only one who can stop the hurricane wind. Once the Bodhisattva Lingji travels down from the mountain, he is able to overcome the monster. The chapter ends after the group learns the truth of the monster's original form as a brown marten that was turned into a spirit monster.

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