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The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief

by Rick Riordan

Language and Communication Theme

The Lightning Thief teaches us that there are more ways of communicating and of using language than one. The story helps us think outside the box and realize that there are no limits or rules when it comes to communication: if we open our minds, we can communicate with animals and gods. First of all, our narrator and protagonist extraordinaire, Percy, is dyslexic and has attention deficit disorder, which means that he has a really hard time reading and writing English and paying attention in school. This makes school REALLY hard for him, and he ends up feeling like a loser/dummy most of the time. But then he realizes that he's a demi-god, that his brain is hardwired for Ancient Greek and not modern English, and that his ability to notice lots of things at once is actually an essential skill to have when fighting a Minotaur to the death. Over the course of this story, we see characters communicate via dreams, rainbows, animals, names, green mist, riddles, and more. We often see characters communicate without words at all. Communication can happen on multiple levels at any given time, and it is often what goes unsaid or unspoken that is most important.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Describe three different ways in which characters communicate with one another in this story.
  2. What's so special about names in this story? Why do characters have to be careful about saying names out loud?
  3. How does Poseidon communicate with Percy?
  4. How does Percy communicate with water and with things in water?
  5. Are the gods always listening? Do they know everything that goes on?
  6. Why can Grover talk to animals?
  7. How do the gods communicate with each other? Do we know?
  8. Does Percy have control over what he dreams?

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