“My mother can make me feel good just by walking into the room.”
This quote comes from Percy’s mother’s first appearance in the novel at home in her apartment with Gabe, and it exemplifies just how much she means to Percy. Throughout his childhood, his mother has been his only parental figure, constant support and encouragement even though he consistently felt like he was screwing everything up. This quote sets the stage for his relationship with his mother, which becomes vitally important later on in the book.
“Young man, names are powerful things. You don’t go around using them for no reason.”
Mr. D is the first to quote this sentiment that appears throughout the book, the idea of names being too powerful to speak. Over and over again, Percy is warned not to say the names of his enemies and his superiors, instructed to show respect for the strength of a name. This goes along with the book’s theme of the importance of identity. A name is a potent indicator of a person’s identity and should be treated as such.
“Come now, Percy. What you call ‘Western civilization.’ Do you think it’s just an abstract concept? No, it’s a living force. A collective consciousness that has burned bright for thousands of years.”
Chiron explains to Percy that the Greek gods still exist, moving along from country to country as the cradle of Western civilization shifts even more westward. He emphasizes the fluid nature of the progressive ideas that comprise the West in order to explain why the gods can exist in present-day USA where Percy lives.
“Poseidon. Earthshaker. Stormbringer. Father of horses. Hail, Perseus Jackson, Son of the Sea God.”
Percy steps in the water after being injured in capture-the-flag and then is healed; a moment later he receives a sign from Poseidon claiming him as his son. This is the first time Percy has a name to attach to the father figure that has never existed in his life, but this moment is complicated by the fact that, technically, Poseidon broke an important oath by fathering Percy, and so is taking a great risk in claiming him.
“You shall go west, and face the god who has turned. You shall find what was stolen, and see it safely returned. You shall be betrayed by one who calls you a friend. And you shall fail to save what matters most in the end.”
These words, spoken to Percy in the attic of the Big House by the mystical Oracle, catalyze the quest on which he is about to embark. They are cryptic and mysterious, and he will spend much of his journey attempting to decipher them. Percy does not understand the true meaning of the words until the very end of the novel, when he chooses not to save his mother and Luke betrays him.
“The Gray-Eyed One did this to me, Percy. Annabeth’s mother, the cursed Athena, turned me from a beautiful woman into this.”
This quote comes just after Percy and his friends realize that Aunty Em is really Medusa. It exemplifies the theme of grudges and blame that is present throughout this book. Gods and monsters all hold on to grudges from years and years in the past, and throughout this novel they have a habit of taking them out on the gods’ children—in this case, Annabeth is bearing punishment for her mother’s actions.
“A god is giving you an opportunity to prove yourself, Percy Jackson. Will you prove yourself a coward?”
With this quote, Ares shows that he knows exactly how to touch a nerve with Percy. As a demigod who has only recently discovered his identity, Percy is desperate to prove his worth above anything else, especially to his father, who took a great risk in claiming him as his son. Ares knows this, and manipulates Percy into doing his bidding with this knowledge.
“No gift comes without a price.”
With this quote, Annabeth displays her deep understanding of the way the world of gods and monsters work. Nothing is free, and everyone pays for the gifts they receive in some way, just as Percy will have to pay for the life-saving pearls his father’s messenger presented to him at the Santa Monica pier. Annabeth has inherited her mother’s wisdom and sensible worldview, something that serves her well on their quest.
“They had done nothing but save me, over and over, and now they wanted to sacrifice their lives for my mom.”
As Hades issues an ultimatum in the underworld, Percy realizes just how much his friends have done for him over the course of his quest. Grover has dedicated himself to protecting Percy as his keeper, and Annabeth had used her wits and cleverness time and time again to get them out of sticky situations. Their help has been essential to Percy’s success, and this quote encapsulates the theme of friendship present in this novel.
“I saw a lot out there in the world, Percy. Didn’t you feel it—the darkness gathering, the monsters growing stronger? Didn’t you realize how useless it all is? All the heroics—being pawns of the gods. They should’ve been overthrown thousands of years ago, but they’ve hung on, thanks to us half-bloods.”
Percy meets his father for the first time and attempts to read his expression, but immediately compares him to the mysterious ocean. This emphasizes Poseidon’s connection to the ocean: it is a part of him, an essential component of his being. It also makes it clear how distant Percy feels from this man who has not been present in his life until this point.
The Lightning Thief Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Lightning Thief is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Come now, Percy. What you call Western Civilization... is a living force, collective consciousness that has burned bright for thousands of years. The gods are part of it, [a] fire started in Greece....
The main conflict in the novel directly relates to the theft of Zeus' lightning bolt, and the requirement that Percy both find and return it. Along the way, numerous characters thwart his attempts to regain the lightning bolt, generally because of...