Category Archives: Week 15

Discussion Questions 15 — Option Week


  1. What do you believe the demon symbolizes in The Story of the Fisherman and the Demon?

The Demon symbolizes the King who is hateful to all women. He was cheated on by his wife he feels that the best way to gain revenge for his hurt is to sleep with a different women every night and the next morning have her put to death before she has the chance to hurt him. When the Fisherman freed the Demon from the jar he immediately intended on putting the Fisherman to death and not looking at the bigger picture of how grateful he should be to the Fisherman.   The fisherman represents the innocent girls who are being killed by the King. The Fisherman was fishing at his usual fishing hole with a family at home. When he accidentally caught the jar that held the demon inside. Lucky for the Fisherman he is an excellent story teller like Shahrazad. And was able to distract the demon and manage to get him back in the jar. He shared the following stories with Demon while he was back in the jar expressing why he would not release him.

The Tale of King Yunan and the Sage Duban

The King Yunan was afflicted with Leprosy, which no one had a cure for. A sage called Duban was able to heal the King. The King was very grateful to the sage which caused the Kings Vizer to grow jealous over the sage. The King Yunan is a representative of the King Sharayar who has an illness of his wife cheating on him. The Sage is Shazarad who has come to heal the King.

The Tale of the Husband and the Parrot-

A jealous husband had a very beautiful wife. One day the husband went to a bird market, and brought home a parrot. When the husband left on a journey the parrot told on his wife and her husband. This is similar to the King whose wife cheated on him as well.

After the fisher man shared these stories with the Demon. He makes a deal with the Fisher man that if he is set free he will make him the richest man in the world and he won’t kill him. The fisher man agrees. The Demon takes the Fisherman to a lake where there is a variety of different colored fish that the fisherman is to catch and take to the King. He does so and the King gives him a great deal of money in exchange. The Kings cook, cooks up the fish and when doing so a maiden appeared and then the fish turned into ashes. They showed the King of his mystery and the King decided to go find out what made this happen. He headed to the lake. The King arrived in a castle where he found a man made of half human flesh and half stone. He was weeping in the corner of the castle. The King asked him how he got that way. And the former King of the castle shared his story with him. The Kings wife had betrayed him (As did King Shahrayar’s wife). He found his wife had snuck around on him at night. He thought he had killed his wife’s lover but he hadn’t, and his wife turned him to stone and whips him every day. The King decided that he would help this former King of Stone. So he lay where his wife’s lover lays and tricks her into doing as he says acting as her lover. The King who embarked on this journey to find the mystery fish found what he was looking for and also helped out the half man half stone, King. The same as Sharazad is trying to help King Sharayar to recover from his illness and trying to save other girls lives at the same time. In every story there is an allegory found all tying back to Sharazad and the King Sharayar.

“Mother” by Joon-Ho Bong

1. How does your view of the main character change throughout the course of this film? What does this movie say about its the themes of motherhood and justice? And what do you think the mother’s small tin of acupuncture needles symbolizes?

"Mother" or "Here She Comes".  Well known for her passion for her son Do-joon, few realize how deep the passion of motherhood runs.  Photo from

“Mother” or “Here She Comes”. Well known for her passion for her son Do-joon, few realize how deep the passion of motherhood runs. Photo from

In the beginning of the film, “Mother” is almost a-typical of the many women I met when I was in Korea.   Her way of talking, her mannerisms and assurances, her expressions, were all very much the same as the older generation women that peddled food in the market-place and in the restaurants.     This familiarity was especially present whenever the character was stressed over her son, getting upset when he was heading off on the town, when he was leaving dinner before he had eaten as much as he needed.   When I was in the street market in the village outside the Camp my squadron was staying at you seemed to hear a lot of such calling and noise going on.   A very different world than the one I grew up in.   “Mother” is a little high strung, a bit of a nag on the boy, and doting on him constantly.   Always trying to hide his little quirks from others sight, as if they didn’t know he was different.

We never learn "her" name.  She is "Mother".  Photo by

We never learn “her” name. She is “Mother”. Photo by

As the film progresses, I don’t think this changes a great deal.   She is still the same, but the viewer looks deeper into what drives Mother and how her love for her son has had very deep, painful moments.   The wail that comes from her as Do-joon confronts her with the past is as emotion laden as when she cries out as he is hit by the Benz.   Love for this boy drivers her.   When she moves to kill the junkman, its not denial we are witnessing, but fear of the truth being brought to light.   She has weighed the value of the junkman vs. the value of her son and found the junkman (perhaps because of his link to the rice-girl) to be “not worth the dirt under my son’s toenails”.   Again I don’t think we are seeing anything different than we did in the innocent beginning just before the wealthy golfer’s Benz “whatever it is” screams by.   We are witnesses to the depth of the same emotions.   A mother whose sole purpose is to preserve her son.   So my view of her does not really change, although I found it interesting that as she woke to the realization she could not easily hide the junkman’s murder, she calls to her own mother, just for a brief moment.   A crack in an other wise formidable willpower.

She certainly isn’t the first parent to act viciously out of protection and she seems to see that her own advice to Do-joon, to strike back when taunted, has come full circle and “struck” back at the pair of them.   Throughout her amateur investigation, she is on track to seek justice for her son, until she meets the junkman.   The junkman’s story makes too much sense and he describes Do-joon in such a way that the tale rings true; Mother can verbally, but not mentally deny it.   “Mother” acts decisively, all guesswork gone.   She strikes for her son.   In the end, as she weighs the life of her son a second time, with the life of the jailed “JP”, she asks him if he has parents, “don’t you have a mother?”   His answer to her seals his fate.   She knows her son is guilty, as she now is as well.   But since JP has no mother to mourn for him, she keeps quiet and lets him take the wrap.   Her grief on his behalf is still present, even here, as a mother, it pains her a great deal to “cheat” justice with “JP’s” life.

Her box of needles.  A tin of memories.

Her box of needles. A tin of memories.

The tin of needles is like a little magic box.   Its a difficult thing to really “pin” down.   This woman who is apparently not taken very seriously seems to actually know a little about a lot of things.   Do-joon says, “what do you know?”, mocking her in child-like frustration and she acquiesces a reply saying in a mothering tone, “Yes, what does a mother know?”.   But she does.   She knows a lot and is able to bring the pieces together to keep her son from paying from the crime.   The box of needles is power to her. Serving as a source of income, it also serves to hide the unpleasant things in life.   It eases painful memory, it perhaps hid the truth from Do-joon about her attempt at dual suicide.   In the end of the story, as she realizes that Do-joon knows more than he lets on, it pulls her out of the shock she has had.   She is then able to participate in the community around her.   So the tin box is perhaps like Mother’s keeper of memories, of painful things best kept under the rug.

Discussion 15

Discussion 15

The Demon represents King Shahrayar. The demon is set on punishing someone because of his imprisonment by Solomon. This correlates with the King wanting to punish his future wives based upon the action of his first wife.

The fisherman represents Shahrazad. Both are clever and use stories and wit to halt their deaths.

The enchanted lake and cave represent the way that the King is imprisoned in his own anger and need for revenge. The prince that is half man and half rock represents the king locked into his own anger and is unable to move forward in life because he is so weighed down by the anger.

I was also real interested in trying to find out how the number four played into everything. Four times to cast the net, four fish, 400 payment….. I would appreciate anyone’s thought on this.

Arabian nights like Arabian Days…

Arabian Nights artwork16

It seems very clear that the demon in the story represents the King, Shahrayar, and his vow to kill his new wife each morning after the marriage so that she will not have a chance to cheat on him. The fisherman is representative of the innocent girls the king has killed and most importantly Shahrazad his current wife. The fisherman is just doing as he always has and casting his net four times, to find it full of worthless junk until he pulls a lead sealed jar of brass from the depths. When he removes the lead stopper a huge demon appears who threatens to kill the fisherman. In response the fisherman asks, “Why do you wish to kill me, I who have released you and delivered you from the bottom of the sea and brought you back to this world?’ In reply the demon tells of how he was imprisoned and the vows he made over the time of his incarceration. Starting with making Arabian Nights artworkwhomever frees him rich till finally he twisted his vow so that whoever set him free would earn the worst kind of death or get to choose their own death. Hearing this, the fisherman asked for mercy saying forgive me and you will also be forgiven, but harm me and you will also be harmed, but the demon would hear none of it so the fisherman tricked him back into the jar. Once again trapped the demon pleaded to be set free, but the fisherman refused since the demon vowed to kill him. Instead of freeing him a second time the fisherman told the story of King Yunan and the Sage Duban. In this tale King Yunun represents King Shahrayar and the Sage Duban is Shahrazad. King Yunun has a disease which none have been able to cure, just as King Shahrayar has a madness no one can counter. The Sage comes to the king with a cure and heals him, but a jealous vizier sets out to create the sages doom. The vizier is representative of Shahrayar’s brother who after his own adulterous wife was caught witnessed the King’s wife in similar acts and was the one, who set Shahrayar on the path into madness. The vizier in the story is who causes the King to question the good deeds of the Sage and who poisons the King’s mind against the sage. Within this tale there is another one of the Husband and the parrot. In this tale the husband uses the parrot to get information on his wife and when the parrot is tricked and tells of a rain storm the husband believes it has lied to him and has the bird killed only later find the parrot was telling the truth. This story also reflects the situation between King Shahrayar, his brother, their unfaithful wives, and Shahrazad. It tells of the regret the husband had of killing the faithful parrot. After this tale the vizier relates a story of a king’s son and a she ghoul which follows similar lines. Here we see the common thread of asking for forgiveness and protection, and the fear of trust. The king decides to strike of the Sage’s head even though the Sage has said, “Spare me, your majesty, and God will spare you; destroy me and God will destroy you’. This lack of trust in the Sage costs the King his life, as the theme repeats over again…do unto others as you will them to do unto you. After the retelling of these stories the Demon repents and gives a boon to the fisherman. This boon of a special hidden pool to fish in once a day brings the fisherman wealth and a mystery of the colored fish to a new king. When cooked a demon appears and talks with the fish then turns the fish to ash. This leads the king in the story on an adventure to find the answers behind the fish which leads to the tale of the enchanted king.Arabian Nights fish In this one the fish represent the citizens of Shahrayar’s kingdom and how they are trapped in his madness, and the unfaithful wife in the story represents Shahrayar who has been unjust in his treatment of his citizens. The helpful king is representative of Shahrazad; for in the story he rights the wrongs of the demon wife and kills her just as Shahrazad wishes to right the wrongs of Shahrayar and slay his madness. Like all the other tales in the 1001 Arabian Nights these are full of allegories. Each tale represents some aspect of what is going on in Shahrayar and Shahrazad’s world and the allegories in the tales are used to help heal the King and the kingdom.

The Thousand and One Nights, Take 2

What do you believe the demon symbolizes in the The Story of the Fisherman and The Demon? What allegories do you read in this story?

1001 Nights

                    I think the demon in this story represents the journey that the king takes in the Thousand and One Nights. The demon is bitter at being trapped in his tiny jar far out at sea, and determines that through the actions of one man (Solomon), he will kill the next person to open the jar, just as the king is bitter at the actions of his wife and determines to kill every woman he marries .

Fisherman and his net

The fisherman actually symoblizes Shahrazad — both of them tell stories to immediately halt the demon and the king from carrying out their evil acts by peaking their interest. These stories are not only entertaining, but always have a moral attached. In the fisherman’s story, the moral was that “no good deed goes unpunished’., which makes the demon rethink his plan to kill the fisherman (well, that and the fact that the fisherman was going to throw him back in the ocean). Likewise, Shahrazad’s tales are making the king rethink about killing her immediately — he’s interested in her stories and wants to find out what happens! Eventually, the demon leads the fisherman to a magical lake with strange and mysterious fish and vanishes, symbolizing the exorcism of the king’s own demons — his need to heal from the bitterness his wife introduced into his heart.