Study Guide

American Born Chinese Chapter 7

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Chapter 7

The Monkey King

  • We return to the Monkey King, only this time the story doesn't pick up with Monkey—it begins with an introduction to the four monks who, in ancient times, actually became legends.
  • The fourth one, Wong Lai-Tsao, is the important one—at least for Monkey's story.
  • Unlike the other monks, Wong Lai-Tsao isn't exactly special. He can't really meditate, fast, or preach.
  • But he is generous, and amazingly so. Every morning he picks fruit from an orchard and then shares the food with the homeless on the edge of town, and every afternoon he tends to their wounds.
  • Wong Lai-Tsao does this even though he gets a ton of abuse from these people.
  • One day one of the vagrants asks him why he does what he does in a really rude way.
  • Wong Lai-Tsao, totally calm and unfazed, just tells the vagrants that he's just like them, not worthy of anymore love, but Tze-Yo-Tzuh finds it in his heart to love him anyway, so how could he not respond in the same way?
  • Now that is a good answer, according to the vagrant.
  • Then—pow—the vagrants disappear and in their place stand three emissaries of Tze-Yo-Tzuh.
  • It turns out that Tze-Yo-Tzuh was testing Wong Lai-Tsao to see if he was right for a mission, and indeed he is.
  • The mission is this: Wong Lai-Tsao has to deliver three packages to the west with a star to guide him. (By star, we mean the celestial kind, not the Miley Cyrus kind.)
  • The journey will be dangerous, full of temptations of the flesh and monsters who are into eating monks, but Wong Lai-Tsao accepts the mission anyway. He's Tze-Yo-Tzuh's guy, you see.
  • In addition, Wong Lai-Tsao will get three disciples to travel with him. The first one is a monkey god… you know where this is going right?
  • So Wong Lai-Tsao starts his mission and travels for forty days before he happens upon the Monkey King trapped under the rocks.
  • Wong Lai-Tsao begs the Monkey King to free himself from the rocks so that he can give Wong Lai-Tsao a hand with those packages he's been carrying (you try carrying three big packages for forty days straight… it's not like Wong Lai-Tsao's got a FedEx van).
  • Monkey still has a pretty big chip on his shoulder, so he yells at Wong Lai-Tsao for talking to him without addressing Monkey's supreme status.
  • Wong Lai-Tsao, as unflappable as ever, tells Monkey that he's supposed to be Wong Lai-Tsao's disciple, so he should stop being a fool and get free.
  • Of course Monkey's practically exploding with anger because Wong Lai-Tsao hasn't even acknowledged the fact that Monkey is trapped under a mountain of really heavy rocks.
  • But Wong Lai-Tsao's got an answer for that: he tells Monkey that Monkey's not in his true form and that returning to his true form will free him.
  • That doesn't help Monkey because, as Monkey points out, a curse on the mountain prevents him from practicing his kung-fu.
  • But Wong Lai-Tsao has an answer for that too: he says that returning to one's true form doesn't take kung-fu, it frees up his kung-fu.
  • If you're like what? then you're not alone—Monkey's kind of in the same spot. In fact, he doesn't know how to reply to that.
  • Monkey then points out that there are demons behind the monk.
  • Wong Lai-Tsao says he knows, which is why he hopes Monkey will help him out soon.
  • Monkey's okay with just chilling under the rock and letting the demons eat Wong Lai-Tsao.
  • Wong Lai-Tsao gives Monkey a final warning, that he's Monkey's last chance at freedom, and then a demon spears Wong Lai-Tsao.
  • He kind of sputters to Monkey that finding one's true identity within Tze-Yo-Tzuh's will is really the highest of all freedoms.
  • Does that sound like a bunch of ridiculousness to you? It does to Monkey, which is why he snarkily asks if Wong Lai-Tsao's true identity is to be the demons' supper.
  • Even though Wong Lai-Tsao's about to be roasted over a fire and eaten, he manages to respond with a pretty snarky comment himself: Is Monkey's true identity to be a prisoner under a rock for the rest of eternity?
  • That kind of shuts Monkey up.
  • After he sees that the demons really are about to roast Wong Lai-Tsao, Monkey finally can't take it anymore and breaks out of the rocks to save Wong Lai-Tsao.
  • He beats up the demons and even farts in one of the demons' faces.
  • After he's done with them, he frees Wong Lai-Tsao, calls him master (yep, Monkey's definitely changed), and offers to fly him to the nearest town.
  • But Wong Lai-Tsao doesn't want to take any shortcuts, although he does ask Monkey to carry the packages and—more importantly—take off his shoes. Shoes won't be necessary on this journey, he tells Monkey.
  • So Monkey leaves with Wong Lai-Tsao as his faithful servant until the end.

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