The 100-chapter novel Journey to the West is an exciting but challenging read for anyone. To simplify everything, here I present a brief yet complete summary, outlining the main events taken place in each chapter of the novel. This summary is the best insight tool to Journey to the West for those who are new to the story, cannot access the full novel, or are simply not bothered to read the full 100 chapters.
Everything in this summary is in chronological order and is listed by chapter. I guarantee that it'll be a fun read to help guide you through this novelistic epic.
All images used below (except for chapter 9 ) are illustrations credited to Chen Huiguan 2001 (1935-, 陈惠冠).
Here ends The Journey to the West.
 except for chapter 9
The omission of the ninth chapter from Chen's set of illustrations is due to the fact that this chapter was not published with the rest of the novel; it was added in years later.
 watch (更)
In ancient China, night time was divided into five periods, each known as a "watch". These five watches, from first to fifth, correspond with the times of 19:00-21:00, 21:00-23:00, 23:00-1:00, 1:00-3:00 and 3:00-5:00, respectively.
 Bimawen (弼马温)
Literal meaning (Chinese): pleasant assistant of the horses.
Through my research of the Journey to the West novel, I have come to realise that the name "Bimawen" is actually a Chinese pun and a taunt towards Monkey. This phrase is a homophonic play on the Chinese phrase bi mawen (避马瘟, lit: avoid the horse plague). In ancient Chinese medical doctrine, it was believed that the urine of a female monkey could be used as a cure for horse diseases, and essentially horse plague. The use of this pun is to insult Monkey to be a woman, which offends his masculinity.
English translations of Bimawen in the past have all revolved around the concept of "Protector of the Horses" or "Keeper of the Horses". Anthony C. Yu (2012) currently has the most accurate translation for Bimawen. He translates it as "BanHorsePlague". However, since none of these names really has the same flavour to the punny phrase, I have simply kept the original.
 Taizong (太宗)
Literal meaning (Chinese): supreme ancestor.
Taizong is a common reigning title that the second emperor of a Chinese dynasty uses. This corresponds to the reigning title of the first emperor of a dynasty, which is "Gaozu (高祖, lit: high ancestor)".
 Samadhi (समाधी, 三昧)
Literal meaning (Sanskrit): to establish complete consciousness.
In the context of Journey to the West, Samadhi is a term used to describe things of full cultivation, associated with the idea of "定 (fixity/arrest/preservation)".
 Zhenyuan (镇元)
Literal meaning (Chinese): one who suppresses their origin.
Also known as: Lord Equalling the World (yushitong jun, 与世同君).
Master Zhenyuan is the patriarch of all Earth immortals. He is one of the highest ranking and most powerful Daoist deities.
 Three Stars (三星)
The Three Stars are three popular deities in traditional Daoism, which represent the three religious features of "blessing (fu, 福)", "fortune (lu, 禄)" and "longevity (shou, 寿)".
 Cadaver Demon (尸魔)
"Cadaver Demon" is the recorded name of the more famously known White Bone Demon (baigu jing, 白骨精) in the original novel. The text has never called her "White Bone Demon".
 Precious-Image Kingdom (宝象国)
The Chinese name Baoxiang 宝象 can be translated as either Precious-Image or Precious-Elephant; both meanings have strong Buddhist associations. I have chosen to use the former simply because the Journey to the West novel describes the setting of the place to be really beautiful, and its scenery is sure to be outstanding. Hence, I adapt this name because of the kingdom's "precious image".
 poor looks
The reason for the poor looks is because, as a travelling monk who has left home, Tripitaka is to dress humbly. During the journey, he usually wears an old, patched monk's robe (commonly brown) and a straw hat. This is in contrast with the more iconic look of Tripitaka from the classic 1986 Journey to the West TV show, where he is inaccurately portrayed with a kasaya cassock and vairocana hat on at all times.
 trio of gods
The trio referenced are the Three Pure Ones (sanqing, 三清, a.k.a. Three Purities), the Daoist trinity. The three deities are: Celestial Worthy of Primal Beginning (yuanshi tianzun, 元始天尊), Celestial Worthy of Spiritual Treasures (lingbao tianzun, 灵宝天尊) and Celestial Worthy of the Way and Virtue (daode tianzun, 道德天尊 - this is Laozi (老子), commonly known in Journey to the West as Supreme Exalted Lord Lao).
 Krttika (कृत्तिका, 昴日)
Literal meaning (Chinese): rising sun.
Krttika is one of the 28 Nakshatra of Hindu cosmology. The corresponding Chinese constellation is Mao (昴), one of the 28 Lodges or Mansions. Krttika and Mao both represent the star constellation of Pleiades. The Chinese literal translation, "rising sun", reflects the true form of the respective star official, whose true form is a rooster, an animal known for alerting sunrises.
 Squire Ten-Eight (十八公)
Literal meaning (Chinese): the eighteenth squire/lord.
The reason why I translated this term to "ten-eight" rather than the literal "eighteen" is because through my studies of the Journey to the West novel, I have realised that the name of the character Squire Ten-Eight is a pun of the Chinese written language. The character is later revealed in the chapter to be the sprit of a pine tree. When combined ideographically, his name results in the character for pine (song, 松). i.e. 十 (ten) + 八 (eight) = 木 (wood); 木 (wood) + 公 (squire) = 松 (pine)!
 Maitreya (मैत्रेय, 弥勒)
Literal meaning (Sanskrit): friendliness
The Buddha Maitreya is more commonly known in China as the monk Budai (布袋, lit: cloth bag - this is a reference to a bag that he is normally depicted carrying around, possibly the Human-Seed Bag that makes an appearance in Journey to the West), the Fat Buddha (pangfo, 胖佛), or to many English speakers: the Laughing Buddha (xiaofo, 笑佛). In some sources, he is considered as a Bodhisattva rather than a Buddha.
 Hou (犼)
Also known as: Denglong (蹬龙, lit: transcending dragon).
The Hou is a protection creature in Chinese mythology, portrayed here in Journey to the West to be the steed of Bodhisattva Guanyin. A common belief of the Hou's appearance consists of features from ten animals: deer horns, camel head, cat ears, shrimp eyes, donkey mouth, lion hair, snake neck, Shen (蜃, clam-monster) belly, koi (grass carp) scales, eagle front claws and tiger back paws. Other sources state that the Hou is a Mongolian wolf-dragon, whose head his a common design in roof architecture.
The Roc is a giant legendary bird of prey in Arabian folklore, with its name originating from the Arabic word ruk (رخ). It is the closest English translation to the mythical Chinese condor-like raptor called "Peng (鹏)". Another mythical bird similar to the Roc and Peng is the Garuda from Hindu culture.
 Bhiksu (भिक्षु, 比丘)
Also known as: Bhikku (भिक्खु).
Literal meaning (Pali): one who lives by alms.
Bhiksu are simply male Buddhist monks. Female Buddhist nuns are called "bhiksuni".
 Celestial Worthy (天尊)
Also translated as: Lord of Heaven.
Celestial Worthy is the highest rank in the Daoist pantheon. Most of the highest-ranking Daoist deities (e.g. Supreme Exalted Lord Lao) hold this title. It is the Daoist equivalent of Buddha (fozu, 佛祖, lit: Buddhist patriarch) in Buddhism.
 Four Wood Creature Stars (四木禽星)
These four creatures are just physical representatives for the star constellations they stand for, which all share the element of wood. These constellations and their creature symbols are: Citra (jiao, 角) the flood-dragon (jiao, 蛟), Uttara-Ashadha (dou, 斗) the Xie (獬, mythical Chinese unicorn), Revati (kui, 奎) the wolf and Punarvasu (jing, 井) the wild-dog.
 Supreme Yin (太阴)
The Supreme Yin is the Chinese name referring to the Moon, which is said to be the largest body of Yin (dark) energy. This is opposed to the Supreme Yang (taiyang, 太阳), which refers to the Sun, of Yang (light) energy.
A full but basic summary to provide you with an insight into the full Journey to the West story.
Read along this epic classic and experience the eighty-one ordeals with our characters.