The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief Literary Elements


Young Adult Fantasy

Setting and Context

Modern-day USA, across the country from New York to Los Angeles

Narrator and Point of View

The novel is narrated in first-person past tense by Percy Jackson, a sixth grader who discovers that he is the demigod son of Poseidon.

Tone and Mood

This book is fast-paced and excited, with an urgent mood as time runs out for Percy to complete his quest.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Percy Jackson is the protagonist, and the antagonist shifts throughout the book. Hades, Luke Castellan, and Kronos are all primary antagonists, with minor antagonists like the Furies and other monsters making an appearance.

Major Conflict

Zeus's master thunderbolt has gone missing, and Percy is sent on a quest to retrieve it before the summer solstice in order to prevent a war from breaking out between the gods.


The novel reaches its climax when Percy and his friends finally journey to the Underworld and encounter Hades, who reveals that he is not the lightning thief after all.


Percy begins the novel by explaining that he did not ask for everything that happened to him, and warns readers that being a half-blood is scary and dangerous, so if they have reason to believe they are one, they should shut this book right away. This warning foreshadows the misadventures to come.




The novel frequently alludes to different stories in Greek mythology, such as the myth of Perseus killing Medusa, the myth of Arachne, and Athena's weaving competition.


Discussed in a separate imagery section of this study guide.




The events in this book parallel many of the events and stories that happened in ancient mythology, as Percy undergoes the kind of hero quest that heroes like Hercules and Odysseus underwent before him.

Metonymy and Synecdoche



Many non-human creatures are given humanlike emotions and the ability to speak in this book, most notably the circus animals that Percy and his friends encounter on their drive to Las Vegas in chapter 16. The zebra in the car can speak to Percy through his mind because Percy is the son of the god who brought horses into the world.