The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How does Percy transform over the course of the novel?

    When the novel begins, Percy knows little about his identity, his past, and his family. Even when he first learns he is a half-blood, he has trouble accepting this and feels like he has a foot in two worlds. By the end of the novel he has come to terms with who he is as a person and how he fits into his identity as a demigod. He has also gained valuable leadership and problem-solving skills from surmounting obstacles throughout his journey to the Underworld and back.

  2. 2

    How does this novel mirror the typical epic hero tales of Greek mythology?

    Just like famous epics like The Odyssey, The Lightning Thief centers around a hero embarking on a quest, during which he will have to prove his worth through many tests of physical, mental, and emotional ability. In many ways, Percy fits the hero mold outlined by heroes like Theseus and Odysseus: he is uncertain of his parentage, has had a rocky past and trouble fitting in with others around him, and has been deemed special in some way—in Percy’s case, he is special because he is a son of the Big Three.

  3. 3

    What effect does placing ancient mythology in modern-day context have on a story such as this?

    The Lightning Thief places the stories of the Greek gods in present-day, which makes them more interesting and relevant for young readers in the new millennium. It shows that the struggles that gods and heroes faced in ancient times are struggles that people still face today—they fell in love, fought, experienced jealousy and showed loyalty to their friends, just like readers. This connection makes it clear that these stories are timeless and can fit seamlessly into any place in history.

  4. 4

    Why is Percy's mother such an important figure in his life?

    Percy grew up without his father, so his mother was the only parent he ever knew. As such, she played a pivotal role in his development and the two formed an extremely close relationship as he grew up. His mother becomes even more important in the novel when the gods realize how much she means to him and use this fact to manipulate him. At the end of the novel, Percy empowers his mother to get rid of Gabe and forge her own path in life, and then chooses to go back to her rather than spend the year at camp, showing how important she truly is to him.

  5. 5

    How is the Lotus Casino different from the previous obstacles Percy faced?

    Up until Percy and his friends were sucked into the Lotus Casino in Las Vegas, the tests Percy went through over the course of his quest were primarily tests of his physical skill, requiring him to fight off monsters or evade traps in order to survive. The casino, however, is an entirely new kind of obstacle, testing his mental resolve and willpower. He must have the mental strength to tear himself and his friends away from an easy life of playing games so that they can continue their quest and prevent a war between the gods. Percy manages to do this, and it is an important step on his journey towards achieving his goal and becoming a true hero.

  6. 6

    What significance do Grover and Annabeth play in Percy's quest?

    Grover and Annabeth stick by Percy’s side throughout his journey and prove that he would be nowhere without the aid of his friends. Time and time again, they use their wits and quick thinking to get the group out of sticky situations, like Annabeth figuring out how to tame Cerberus in the Underworld and Grover freeing the zoo animals from the truck in Las Vegas. They also provide essential emotional support, because if Percy were to try tackling this responsibility on his own he would surely not be able to handle it. Annabeth and Grover are more than just sidekicks; they are as much a part of the quest as Percy is.

  7. 7

    Discuss Percy's relationship with his father and how it evolves over the course of the novel.

    Percy’s parentage is the biggest revelation that happens in this novel, since Percy spent his entire life thinking he had no father. Their relationship is complicated by the fact that, technically, Poseidon had broken a vow by fathering Percy, so Percy should never have existed. Percy does not end up feeling the warm kinship that a son should feel for his father because Poseidon has been so absent from his life—however, he does feel happy when Poseidon says he is proud of what he has done, showing the potential for a good relationship to be kindled in the future.

  8. 8

    Chiron claims the gods move with “Western civilization.” What does this novel suggest that Western civilization really is?

    'Western civilization' is a difficult term to define, but Chiron hints that Western civilization is the cradle of contemporary ideas and progress. This suggests that the gods are connected not to people or places, but to certain progressive ideologies that define the West. This fits with the United States’ national perception of itself, and means that it is easy for Riordan’s version of the gods to find a home in the U.S.

  9. 9

    Annabeth chooses to return home rather than stay at Camp Half-Blood for the year as she usually does. What does this say about her character?

    Up until this point Annabeth has remained at Camp Half-Blood, safe in her comfort zone in the place where she fits and can show off her skills. However, going on this quest with Percy allows her to see the benefit of pushing herself beyond where she is comfortable, so she chooses to go home and face the father who previously did not treat her right. This shows her willingness to challenge herself and to keep working at things that seem hard. Annabeth has learned a lot about her own resolve over the course of this novel just as Percy has.

  10. 10

    Why does Luke's betrayal impact Percy so severely?

    Percy is the kind of person who values loyalty to loved ones above all else, something evidenced by his willingness to sacrifice himself for his friends and his mother in the Underworld as well as other general acts of loyalty towards people he cares about. Luke was someone he considered a friend, so the loss of his loyalty—or the realization that Luke never really was loyal—impacts him greatly. This is why, at the end of the novel, Percy is determined to hunt Luke down, paving the way for future quests to come.