The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief Summary and Analysis of Chapters 4-6


Grover, Percy, and Percy's mother drive off down dark roads in Gabe's car. Percy cannot get over Grover's furry legs and hooves. Grover explains that he has been watching Percy at Yancy, and that he is a goat from the waist down—a satyr, actually, like those in Greek mythology. He says that the less Percy knew, the less monsters he would attract, but it is too late now because he is already beginning to discover who he is. He tells Percy that they are on their way to the summer camp that his mother told him about, because Percy is in danger and that is the only place he will be safe.

Suddenly the car swerves into a ditch and crashes; they are all okay, but Grover is injured. Percy's mother tells him to get out and run past the big tree nearby, which marks the summer camp's property line, but he does not want to leave her. A huge hairy monster appears and makes its way towards him, and Percy realizes it is the Minotaur—however, his mother stops her from saying his name, because "names have power" (pg. 55). The monster does not have good sight and hearing, but it can smell them. Percy's mother instructs them to separate, and Percy jumps out of the way at the last minute as the Minotaur charges. His mother tells him to run, just before the monster closed his fists around his mother's neck and she dissolves into a shimmering gold flash.

Percy is dumbstruck, but he runs to save Grover so his best friend will not dissolve as well. He jumps at the Minotaur and snaps off one of his horns, using it as a weapon. He drives the horn below the monster's ribcage and it bursts apart into golden light just like Mrs. Dodds had in the museum. Percy grabs Grover and drags him past the tree to a farmhouse in the distance; the last thing he remembers is collapsing and seeing a bearded man and a girl's face standing over him.

Percy has strange dreams of monsters, and he wakes a few times to see a girl with curly blonde hair hovering over him, mumbling something about the summer solstice. He finally wakes up for good and Grover is there, thanking him for saving his life. He gives him a shoebox with the Minotaur's horn in it, a trophy for beating him. Grover confirms that Percy's mother is really gone. Grover blames himself, since he was supposed to protect Percy. He gives Percy a glass of something that tastes like liquid chocolate chip cookies, and it instantly makes him feel stronger.

Grover walks him out of the farmhouse and through the camp; Percy realizes that they are on the north shore of Long Island. The landscape is dotted with all sorts of ancient Greek buildings, with white marble columns sparkling everywhere. Grover points out Mr. D, a small, porky man who is the camp director, and Annabeth, the curly-haired blonde girl who had been taking care of Percy. Then Percy spots a man in a wheelchair, and realizes it is Mr. Brunner. Mr. Brunner welcomes him to Camp Half-Blood, and invites him to play a game of pinochle with them.

Mr. Brunner tells Percy to call him Chiron, his real name. He came to Yancy just to teach Percy. Percy is still not getting the answers he needs, so Chiron begins to explain. He tells Percy that the gods are real, and Percy realizes that Mr. D is really Dionysus, the god of wine, placed as camp director as a punishment until he can be a better influence on youth. Chiron explains that the gods move along with the center of Western civilization; they were in Greece and Rome for a while, then Britain, and are now in the United States. He also shows Percy who he really is: a centaur, half horse and half man.

Chiron continues touring Percy around the camp, past the volleyball court and the strawberry fields. Percy asks if Grover will get in trouble, and Chiron says he is not sure, because the Council of Cloven Elders might consider it a failed assignment. He explains that this was Grover's second chance, because something bad had happened the first time he was assigned to be a protector five years ago. They make it to the camp's cabins; two stand imposing, with big white marble columns, but they are both empty. Percy guesses that each cabin has a mascot—these are Zeus and Hera's. Cabin Three has walls studded with seashells and coral, and it is also empty. Most of the other cabins are crowded with campers, like cabin five, where Percy sees a tough, large girl who reminds him of Nancy Bobofit. As they walk, Chiron confirms that he is indeed the same Chiron from all the stories, the one who trained Hercules.

They make it to the last cabin on the left, eleven, where Annabeth is waiting for them. Percy will be staying here. She introduces him to Luke, a nineteen-year-old who is the counselor in charge of that cabin. He explains that Percy is something called "undetermined," and that cabin eleven takes all the newcomers because Hermes, their patron, is the god of travelers. Percy will stay here until he is determined. He walks with Annabeth to the volleyball court, who explains that the cabin someone is assigned to depends on who their parent is: they are all demigods, children of one god and one mortal. They have ADHD because of their battlefield reflexes, and dyslexia because their minds are hardwired for ancient Greek. Her mother is Athena.

They run into Clarisse, a daughter of Ares. Clarisse sneers at him and drags him off to the bathroom, where she tries to push his head towards the toilet bowl. Suddenly something happens, and the toilet shoots water out right at Clarisse. Percy cannot figure out how he did it, but he uses his newfound skill as a threat to make sure Clarisse does not bother him again. Annabeth tells him she wants him on her team for capture the flag.


In these chapters, the major context for the book is revealed: the Greek gods and goddesses still exist, and they have been following Western civilization across the world over the last few millennia. The concept of Western civilization is an interesting one. Scholars generally associate Western civilization with a set of progressive values, ethics, and political and social organization. Chiron calls the United States the cradle of Western civilization, which would make it the cradle of the progressive ideas and beliefs that have defined Western civilization in the past. This means that the gods have been following ideas across the world, rather than any kind of material objects.

Putting the gods and their stories in the context of modern American teenagers serves a distinct purpose: it makes them more relatable to young readers. So much of modern literature has a basis in these myths, and yet studying them through original texts in an academic setting often makes it difficult for young people to process and become invested. By learning about the myths through Percy, a normal, relatable kid, young readers can be exposed to these important stories in a way that sticks in their minds.

As previously discussed, this novel sets Percy's life up to run parallel with epic heroes of Greek mythology. Just like epic heroes, Percy is revealed to be special in some way, with some hidden qualities that he himself is not aware of until later in his life. Percy is not only special as a demigod among humans, but he also seems to be special among demigods themselves, although we have not yet learned why.

The other supporting characters in this novel also take on certain character molds found in the epics. Chiron is Percy's teacher, a mature mentor who will guide him towards honing his abilities and making smart decisions. Having Chiron as a teacher immediately associates Percy with Hercules, since Chiron was his teacher as well, and foreshadows that Percy will do great things. Grover is Percy's protector and sidekick, there to support him in his endeavors. But Grover is not a one-dimensional character: he has hopes and concerns of his own, and a past that Percy has yet to uncover, but that Chiron alludes to in his discussion of Grover and the Cloven Elders while giving Percy a tour.

Percy also becomes associated with another famous epic hero by defeating the Minotaur: Theseus, who, according to myth, fought this same monster in a maze and won. In the process of fighting the Minotaur, though, Percy loses his mother, and with it all traces of his former human life disappear as well. Without his mother, he has no reason to try to be human anymore. His mother was what motivated in school and made him want to go back home to New York, and now, without her, there is nothing left to call him back to his former life. The absence of his mother allows him to focus completely on being a demigod—even though a part of his identity is missing without her.

Heroes must always undergo tests, and Percy's encounter with Clarisse in the bathroom at camp is the first time he must prove his worth to his peers. If he could not stand up to Clarisse, he would not be able to hold his own in Camp Half-Blood, and thus would be unworthy of his hero status. His manipulation of the toilet water shows not only his own strength, but the strength of whatever powerful God is his father, protecting him. This event sets Percy up as a camper to be respected, and, in some ways, feared.