Study Guide

The Lightning Thief Chapter 1 Summary

By Rick Riordan

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"I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher"

  • Meet our narrator. He doesn't beat around the bush. He immediately warns us that what we are about to read is dangerous with a capital "D."
  • He tells us, "if you're reading this because you think you might be [a half-blood], my advice is: close this book right now" (1.2).
  • OK, thank you Mr. Narrator. Now, who are you? And what exactly is a "half-blood"?
  • He tells us that, if we feel like we might be a half-blood or know what he means by the term "half-blood," to stop reading this book at all costs. Because "they'll come for you" (1.4).
  • Ummm, Mr. Narrator, who exactly will come for us?
  • This book is dangerous.
  • Our narrator introduces himself: "My name is Percy Jackson" (1.7).
  • Percy is twelve years old and "until a few months ago, I was a boarding student at Yancy Academy, a private school for troubled kids in upstate New York" (1.8).
  • He describes his life as "short" and "miserable" (1.11) and decides to start his story by describing a field trip his sixth grade class took last May to New York City.
  • Percy's story begins now:
  • Field trips don't usually work out for Percy, because he always gets into trouble. Before this particular field trip to New York City, however, Percy promised himself he would be good. He even keeps cool when, on the school bus, Nancy Bobofit pelts pieces of PB&J at his best friend Grover's head.
  • Mr. Brunner, Percy's favorite teacher, leads the field trip through the rooms of the museum: "It blew my mind that this stuff had survived for two thousand, three thousand years" (1.30).
  • Mr. Brunner calls on Percy to tell the class who Kronos is and what he did. Percy knows his stuff and is able to answer this question. He says that Kronos was a Titan, "and […] he didn't trust his kids, who were gods. So, um, Kronos ate them, right? But his wife hid baby Zeus, and gave Kronos a rock to eat instead. And later, when Zeus grew up, he tricked his dad, Kronos, into barfing up his brothers and sisters–" (1.46).
  • Right on, Percy!
  • Mr. Brunner continues the story:

    "Zeus did indeed feed Kronos a mixture of mustard and wine, which made him disgorge his other five children, who, of course, being immortal gods, had been living and growing up completely undigested in the Titan's stomach. The gods defeated their father, sliced him to pieces with his own scythe, and scattered his remains in Tartarus, the darkest part of the Underworld." (1.56)

  • Percy tells us that Mr. Brunner is cool, but that he pushes him really hard in class. He expects Percy to know everything about Greek history and culture.
  • Percy tells us that he has dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, "and I had never made above a C- in my life" (1.68).
  • Percy joins his classmates for lunch on the front steps of the museum.
  • The sky is stormy.
  • Percy tells us the weather has been really funky lately: flooding, snow storms, "wildfires from lightning strikes" (1.72).
  • Nancy Bobofit drops her half-eaten lunch in Grover's lap, and this really frosts Percy's cookie.
  • The next thing we know, Nancy is sitting in the fountain. She claims Percy pushed her. Other Yancy kids are whispering about how the water seemed to grab her. Say what?
  • Mrs. Dodds, the scary math teacher who hates Percy's guts, leads him into the museum, as though she were leading him to bigtime punishment.
  • They go back to the Greek and Roman section where the class had just been, and then Mrs. Dodds starts to growl. Seriously:
  • "The look in her eyes was beyond mad. It was evil" (1.120).
  • Then Mrs. Dodds tells Percy that, "It was only a matter of time before we found you out" (1.124). Whaaaaa?
  • Percy has no idea what Mrs. Dodds is talking about – have the teachers found his illegal candy stash?
  • Then, Mrs. Dodds's eyes glow red, she grows wings and talons, and she transforms into some kind of…beast, "with bat wings and claws and a mouth full of yellow fangs, and she was about to slice me to ribbons" (1.130).
  • Mr. Brunner appears.
  • Just as Mrs. Dodds lunges for Percy, Mr. Brunners throws Percy a ballpoint pen which transforms into a sword.
  • Percy slices Mrs. Dodds right before she kills him, and she vaporizes like "a sand castle in a power fan" (1.142).
  • Suddenly, Percy is alone. The sword is a ballpoint pen once more. And there's no sign of Mr. Brunner.
  • What just happened? Did it even happen, or did I imagine it? – these thoughts run through Percy's mind.
  • Things get stranger.
  • When Percy returns to the front of the museum where the rest of the class is, nobody knows who Mrs. Dodds is. And there's a new teacher around who Percy has never even heard of: Mrs. Kerr.
  • Even Grover and Mr. Brunner don't seem to know who Mrs. Dobbs is.

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