“She saw him hide the peach in a box. And then the Master Archer raised his bow and vowed to fast for one year to show he had the patience to live forever. And after he ran off, the Moon Lady wasted not one moment to find the peach and eat it.” page 81, The Moon Lady, Ying-ying St. Clair in Amy Tan’s novel The Joy Luck Club
This excerpt from Amy Tan’s novel… doesn’t it remind you of some other story? The tale mentions the peach; in my head, I see an apple. And there’s the Master Archer and Moon Lady. I see a naked couple, Adam and Eve. The story in my head is that of the original sin.
The Moon Lady’s Peach
The sad tale of the Moon Lady was infectious. Right after she ate the “peach of everlasting life,” she had grown on wings and was oddly whisked off to the moon. Banished.
The tinge of sadness gradually gave way to my usual itch. I have to ask myself why? It felt like something was very wrong or strange about the tale’s interpretation. Her act of consuming the peach was attributed to her foolishness. Isn’t “her foolishness” or this interpretation too much? Isn’t it an exagerrated way of saying “you fool” when you only screw up?
If it’s not foolishness (and yes, I refuse to think it is), what is it? For me, it’s simple: she was just curious. Yet, it isn’t that simple; it’s a fantastical tale so there’s no way it’s supposed to look simple. The Moon Lady’s curiosity was too strong — she didn’t even had the time (or fine, wisdom) to ask her husband Master Archer what is it with this “peach of everlasting life.” Her curiosity got a hold of her that she basically took a leap to taste what was kept hidden in the box.
Eve’s Fruit of Knowledge
The Moon Lady’s tale, which is Chinese in origin, rings a very loud parallel rhythm to that of the Bible’s original sin. Eve ate an apple a.k.a the “fruit of knowledge.” And we know what happen after that.
Eve was not only considered foolish; the eating of the apple made her a sinner (thus, the original sin). The curious thing here is, while Adam did follow suit, it is Eve who by impression took majority of the blame. See there Moon Lady? You are not alone?
I don’t have to look far to recognize the same blame-story shared not only by the Moon Lady or Eve. In the past, I’ve read personal accounts written by victims of rape and violence. One of the things they had to endure after the abuse is blame. It’s because you went out at night. With an outfit like that, what do you expect?
Blame isn’t only a game women-characters (from books) play. It is very much alive and perpetuated by society, institutions, and individuals. It belongs in books and in real life. Sometimes, I wish it didn’t.