Study Guide

The Lightning Thief Identity

By Rick Riordan

Identity

Chapter 1

Being a half-blood is dangerous. It's scary. Most of the time, it gets you killed in painful, nasty ways. (1.3)

Percy can't choose to be half-blood. It chooses him. His mom tries to choose a normal life for him for years, but the situation is beyond her control. Percy's destiny is wrapped up in the fact that he is half-human and half-god. When he tells us that being a half-blood is dangerous, he is talking from the perspective of someone who has just returned from a quest. We're getting his perspective on the quest after he's completed it and is able to reflect on it.

Chapter 3
Percy Jackson

"Because I'm not normal," I said.

"You say that as if it's a bad thing, Percy. But you don't realize how important you are. I thought Yancy Academy would be far enough away. I thought you'd finally be safe." (3.109-110)

Sometimes it's easy to forget that Percy is just a kid. Grown-ups like Sally and Chiron are able to help him see what he doesn't know, to see past the rules and standards of the mortal world where being "normal" is a really good thing. What does being "normal" mean anyway?

Chapter 5
Percy Jackson

"Who are you, Chiron? Who…am I?"

[…]

"Who are you?" he mused. "Well, that's the question we all want answered, isn't it? But for now, we should get you a bunk in cabin eleven. There will be new friends to meet." (5.193-195)

What does Chiron mean here? Isn't Percy a half-blood? We thought we established that already. Chiron seems to refer to another aspect of Percy's personality that he hasn't figured out yet: his mortal parent. The identity of a demi-god is very dependent on who his/her mortal parent is.

Chiron

"If you were a god, how would you like being called a myth, an old story to explain lightning? What if I told you, Perseus Jackson, that someday people would call you a myth, just created to explain how little boys can get over losing their mothers?" (5.126)

Gulp. We've always thought of the stories of Greek gods as being myths. But Chiron makes an interesting point here. The gods in The Lightning Thief are definitely not myths. They're present all the time, listening and fighting and weighing in on matters. They are so foolish and rash sometimes, they almost seem human. Being labeled as "myths" seems to wipe away any sense of true identity from the gods. This label almost makes them less powerful.

Annabeth Chase

"Because I know you. You wouldn't be here if you weren't one of us." (5.139)

Annabeth is a good guide to a very confused Percy. By virtue of finding and entering Camp Half-Blood, Percy learns a whole lot about himself and what he is capable of. However, it takes another half-blood, Annabeth, to really help him understand what being at Camp Half-Blood means. Percy has spent most of his life as a loner – he doesn't know what it's like to be part of a community.

Chapter 6

I wondered how she could say that. What was so great about me? A dyslexic, hyperactive boy with a D+ report card, kicked out of school for the sixth time in six years. (6.94)

Percy's self-esteem is mighty low in the beginning of his story. He has no friends beyond Grover, he never gets to stick around, he can't "get" school and what he learns there, and he's always getting into huge trouble. He's an outsider, a loner. But his mom sees through the "normal" measures of intelligence and personality that claim Percy is troubled and stupid.

Chapter 7
Annabeth Chase

"Don't you get it, Percy? You are home. This is the only safe place on earth for kids like us."

"You mean mentally disturbed kids?"

"I mean not human. Not totally human, anyway. Half-human."

"Half-human and half-what?"

"I think you know."

I didn't want to admit it, but I was afraid I did. I felt a tingling in my limbs, a sensation I sometimes felt when my mom talked about my dad.

"God," I said. "Half-god."

Annabeth nodded. "Your father isn't dead, Percy. He's one of the Olympians." (7.17-24)

We're seven chapters into The Lightning Thief, and Percy is only just beginning to grasp what is going on, why he's really at Camp Half-Blood. Why is it so hard for him to understand that he is half-god? Compare the way Percy finds out that he is a half-blood to the way Harry Potter of the Harry Potter series discovers that he is a wizard.

Chapter 8

The only thing I really excelled at was canoeing, and that wasn't the kind of heroic skill people expected to see from the kid who had beaten the Minotaur. (8.7)

Again, Percy is a bit hard on himself. He's really good at beating himself up and at seeing himself as being a loser. He's got to learn how to really open his eyes and see the possibilities of something like canoeing. He's still measuring himself by the mortal world's standards.

Chapter 11
Annabeth Chase

"At camp you train and train. And that's all cool and everything, but the real world is where the monsters are. That's where you learn whether you're any good or not." (11.20)

Annabeth is a brave chica. She recognizes that the safety of Camp Half-Blood is actually about too safe for her. If she is a demi-god, she wants to act like one. She doesn't want to be pent up in a camp, not using her abilities. As a demi-god, she's already a social outcast in the mortal world. Staying at Camp Half-Blood forever makes her and other demi-gods feel like outcasts in immortal world, too.

Chapter 13

"You have no faith," Echidna told me. "You do not trust the gods. I cannot blame you, little coward. Better you die now. The gods are faithless. The poison is in your heart." (13.139)

You bring up a good point, Echidna. One of the biggest things that Percy has to learn over the course of his quest is faith: faith in himself and faith in the gods. And, boy, does he do a good job of learning this. How does faith work? Can you just say you are going to believe in the gods and then believe in them? How does Percy gain faith in himself and in the gods?