Study Guide

American Born Chinese Chapter 4

By Gene Luen Yang

Chapter 4

The Monkey King

  • Back to the Monkey King and his craziness.
  • It's the morning after the dinner party and the Monkey King has just commanded all his monkey subjects to wear shoes and not disturb him. Someone's a little grumpy…
  • The Monkey King stays in his super-deep Batcave and studies kung-fu even more.
  • After forty days, he masters four major skills or "disciplines of invulnerability": the invulnerability to fire, cold, drowning, and wounds.
  • Forty more days pass and he masters another set of skills, the "four major disciplines of bodily form": giant form, miniature form, hair-into-clones, and shape shift.
  • What are these skills? They're pretty much exactly what they sound like. The Monkey King can get bigger and smaller (like Alice in Wonderland, only without the pills); he can also turn his loose hair into clones of himself and change the shape of his body. Pretty neat, huh?
  • When the Monkey King finally emerges from his cave, he receives a notice from the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea that he's received the death sentence for "trespassing upon Heaven." If that sounds like trouble's coming to you, you're absolutely right.
  • The Monkey King isn't worried, though. In fact, he's not even the Monkey King anymore since becoming a master of all those kung-fu disciplines. He renames himself the Great Sage, Equal of Heaven. A small ego is definitely not one of his problems.
  • The Monkey King strides off to make himself known to all those beings in Heaven.
  • But before he does that, he makes a pit stop at the Dragon King's digs to deal with that little matter of his execution.
  • When he gets to the Dragon King's place, he actually does get his head chopped off, but that doesn't matter because the Monkey King is no longer just a simple Monkey King—he's the Great Sage, Equal of Heaven, which basically means he's the ultimate bad-ass.
  • To point that out to the Dragon King, the Monkey King stomps on him. Now who's boss?
  • The Dragon King isn't dead of course (all these guys are pretty much immortal), but he is humbled. In fact, he sees the Monkey King off and gives him a magic cudgel.
  • Then the Monkey King visits Lao-Tzu, the patron of immortality.
  • Then Yama, caretaker of the Underworld.
  • Then the Jade Emperor, ruler of the Celestials.
  • And he wreaks some serious havoc.
  • Which is why all the gods, goddesses, etc. band together and complain about the Monkey King to the emissaries of Tze-Yo-Tzuh. Who's that? You and the Monkey King are about to find out.
  • While the Monkey King is beating up some random guy, this towering, long-white-haired dude with a huge walking stick shows up and asks Little Monkey where his anger comes from.
  • Being called Little Monkey doesn't go over too well with the Monkey King, which means Monkey's about to fight (again).
  • But Tze-Yo-Tzuh is different. He's the creator of all being and things; he's the ruler of the universe. In other words, think God/Jesus, only Chinese and way into cryptic sayings.
  • He tells Monkey that Monkey can never escape him, but Monkey's like, sure I can.
  • So off Monkey goes on his cloud-steed to prove Tze-Yo-Tzuh wrong.
  • Monkey flies everywhere until he reaches the end of world, where he sees five golden pillars.
  • Like a total punk, Monkey carves his name onto one of the golden pillars. Then he pees on it. Class act, that Monkey, class act.
  • Then he flies back to Tze-Yo-Tzuh and brags about what he's done.
  • Only Tze-Yo-Tzuh has something up his sleeve. Literally, as in his hand and fingers, one of which has Monkey's name carved on it and pee at the base of it.
  • Uh-oh. Yep—Monkey didn't really pee on a golden pillar; he peed on Tze-Yo-Tzuh's finger which was disguised as a golden pillar. The guy really is everywhere.
  • But Tze-Yo-Tzuh's a decent man/creator of the universe. He calmly tells Monkey that he created Monkey and so he asks Monkey to please stop his violent rampage.
  • Monkey almost seems to be listening. And then he decides to do the worst thing possible: he challenges Tze-Yo-Tzuh anyway.
  • Tze-Yo-Tzuh just sighs and buries Monkey under a pile of heavy rocks, where Monkey stays for five hundred years.