The story of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants features four girls on a life journey that puts their friendship to the test. Each of them presents a different perspective on how they face the challenges that come their way even though they have very different characteristics and personalities as well as outlook in life. The novel is similar to the classical Chinese story of Journey to the West, where the four main characters encounter many trials which serve to bring them together despite their differences.
In both stories, the characters make a personal journey of enlightenment which would come to them in different ways based on each one’s own experiences. Both stories present four various characters with distinct personalities that sometimes contrast with one another. Similarities can be found in the characters from the two stories. For instance, Lena Kalligaris personality is similar to Tan Sanzhang. They enlighten and entertain their friends by being soft-spoken and sweet (in the case of Lena), and they always appear to be passive and calm.
In the case of Sanzhang, he is hardly violent or aggressive and admonishes Wukong for always resolving issues with force which results in him invoking a special spell to restrain Wukong (Wu). Both Lena and Sanzhang also appear meek out of fear. In Lena’s case, she is afraid of antagonizing her family especially when she is dating Kostas who comes from a rival family (Kwapis). In Sanzhang’s case, it is not only because of Buddhist teachings but human laws too which is why he always urges restraint whenever in a confrontation.
He believes violence is not always the answer to every problem and a peaceful solution must be sought first. There are similarities also found between Bridget Vreeland and Sun Wukong, the Monkey King. Both characters are marked by great physical, moral, or intellectual power. They tend to act as firm and forceful on whatever decision they make. In one such instance when Bridget is trying to win the affections of her soccer coach Eric, despite the ban on flirting with the coaches, she did as she pleased to get him to notice her (Kwapis).
In the case of Sun Wukong, when he went to the Jade Emperor’s realm, he did as he pleased, picking golden peaches at will and even drinking a magical elixir that made him invincible. It took Buddha to stop him from wreaking further havoc (Wu). These two characters show that they are always willing to fight, help, play a trick, and cheer up their other members under different circumstances. The peculiar characteristics of Carmen Lowell and Sha Wujing put themselves in a situation where they concede to acknowledge grudgingly some changes in their lives on what they believe in and the standpoint from which they are compared and judged.
For Carmen, it is when her father is remarrying to a white woman and she feels he is neglecting her, but eventually, she would come to terms with it after apologizing (Kwapis). In the case of Wujing, his ability to create a balance owing to his “ neutral” personality offsets Sanzhang’s passivity, Wukong’s aggressiveness and Bajie’s impulsiveness. This is evident in the scene where he keeps the party together when Bajie suggested they disband. This is a complete departure from his seemingly bland character (Wu). Tibby Rollins and Zhu Bajie tend to be enthusiastic and inspired by their own passion in life.
Tibby loves making her own movies where she would capture all the aspects of life in her own version of a documentary, which impresses Bailey that she wanted to hang around with her (Kwapis). As for Bajie, who is depicted as a pig, he expresses a passion for life and likes to live it to the fullest although negative where he is lazy and lustful in which Sanzhang is trying to correct into a positive one by making him his disciple (Wu). They are moved and push themselves to the limit until they reach the goal. Sisterhood of Traveling Pants and Journey to the West have one thing in common; that is, the characters go through a life journey.
Each character has a different story on how he or she lives life everyday. As the characters go through the trials of life, they meet people and they somehow affect their lives by contributing wonderful memories as they leave behind a piece of their life with everyone they meet. These wonderful memories are not only positive in nature such as joys and triumphs; they also include the trials and hardships they endured. These experiences make the characters more mature and capable enough to face another chapter of their lives.