I am reading Wu Cheng'en's Journey to the West in English (using the translation by Anthony C. Yu, don't know enough language to understand the source) and there seems to be a recurring theme of using the elements for characters and (maybe) their interactions.
Specifically, I keep seeing "mother of wood" (meant for Pig, from context)
Example in Chapter 63:
When the mother of wood was taken by the water monster The mind−ape did not flinch from a difficult rescue. One used his secret skills to open the locks;
and further on
The yellow−wife blindly joined in the prostration, While the mother of wood foolishly agreed. The monsters used force to oppress the true nature;
And hosts of sages helped to wage the fight. The mother of wood suffers for showing mercy. Determination moves the yellow−wife.
What is mother of wood meaning? Yellow-wife?
At another point (quote missing) the demon that punches his nose to make fire, he is said to "arrange the carts of elements in a pattern" before doing so.
Is this a feature of the language that is lost in translation (a pun I can't understand), or does it have some aspect of symbolism (like Monkey as "mind-ape") I would be sad to miss out on an interesting layer of the text due to that.
Sorry if this is the wrong site to ask in, I hesitated between Literature and here.