The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief Imagery

“The landscape was dotted with buildings that looked like ancient Greek architecture—an open air pavilion, an amphitheater, a circular arena—except that they all looked brand new, their white marble columns sparkling in the sun. In a nearby sandpit, a dozen high-school aged kids and satyrs played volleyball. Canoes glided across a small lake. Kids in bright orange T-shirts like Grover’s were chasing each other around a cluster of cabins nestled in the woods” (Chapter 5, pg. 67)

Percy takes in everything during his first glimpse of Camp Half-Blood, trying to understand what he is seeing. This is his first exposure to the world of gods and monsters, so it is naturally a lot for him to process. He speaks not only of the Greek architecture and satyrs, but also of the various things that make the camp like any other summer camp—canoeing, sports, and cabins, among other things.

“I could see Aunty Em’s dark reflection in the orange glass; her headdress was gone, revealing her face as a shimmering pale circle. Her hair was moving, writhing like serpents” (Chapter 11, pg. 187)

This is a particularly interesting passage of imagery, since Percy cannot look directly at Medusa and must instead look indirectly at her reflection. This is the moment when he realizes who Aunty Em really is: the serpents writhing on her head give it away, and with this description, all of Percy’s prior knowledge of the Medusa myth comes rushing back.

“He was at least ten feet tall, for one thing, and dressed in black silk robes and a crown of braided gold. His skin was albino white, his hair shoulder-length and jet black. He wasn’t bulked up like Ares, but he radiated power. He lounged on his throne of fused human bones, looking lithe, graceful, and dangerous as a panther” (Chapter 19, pg. 322)

The description of Hades is important, since Percy’s entire quest has been focused on reaching Hades’s realm, meaning there has been much hype and many assumptions about the god himself. Until now, the only gods that Percy has met personally were Mr. D and Ares, both of whom looked relatively human. Hades radiates the kind of power that could only come from one of the Big Three.

“From the top of the clouds rose the decapitated peak of a mountain, its summit covered with snow. Clinging to the mountainside were dozens of multilevel palaces—a city of mansions—all with white-columned porticos, gilded terraces, and bronze braziers glowing with a thousand fires” (Chapter 21, pg. 251)

Percy observes every inch of Olympus from the moment he gets out of the elevator in the Empire State Building, seeing for the first time the place he has only heard about from others. The descriptions used to paint a picture of Olympus all emphasize Percy’s awe, because he had thought for the longest time that this place was only a feature of myths—he never expected it to actually exist.