Study Guide

The Lightning Thief Chapter 11

By Rick Riordan

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"We Visit the Garden Gnome Emporium"

In a way, it's nice to know there are Greek gods out there, because you have someone to blame when things go wrong.


  • Percy, Grover, and Annabeth are terrified by what they've just seen and done.
  • Annabeth is mad at Percy for putting himself in so much danger; if he dies, her opportunity to go on a quest is over.
  • Annabeth tells Percy that the only way to really test your abilities as a hero is to survive in the real, mortal world. That's why she's so eager to be on this quest. She wants the quest. She is her mother's daughter.
  • All of their money and things burned up in the bus explosion. They've got nothing left but what they're wearing and holding.
  • Suddenly, they smell something delicious: greasy food!
  • They walk faster towards the greasy food.
  • They come across a "deserted two-lane road" (11.33). Across the road is an abandoned gas station, and "one of those weird roadside curio shops that sell lawn flamingos and wooden Indians and cement grizzlybears and stuff like that" (11.34).
  • But some delicious food smells are coming from that curio shop.
  • The curio shop is called "Aunty Em's Garden Gnome Emporium."
  • Out front are tons of statues of kids, satyrs, and animals.
  • Percy and Annabeth are salivating at the smell of burgers.
  • Grover is wary; he just saw a statue that looked exactly like his Uncle Ferdinand.
  • A lady answers the door: "she wore a long black gown that covered everything but her hands, and her head was completely veiled. Her eyes glinted behind a curtain of black gauze, but that was about all I could make out" (11.56).
  • The lady, Aunty Em, invites them in after they tell her they are orphans.
  • She fixes them burgers, shakes, and french fries in the back of her shop.
  • The shop is a warehouse filled with even more statues of all kinds of people in all kinds of poses. The statues have all different kinds of looks on their faces. Their eyes seem to follow Percy, Annabeth, and Grover.
  • Mmmmmm. Aunty Em's food is good.
  • Percy asks her questions about her career: making statues. Aunty Em tells them the face is always difficult to capture when making a statue. She tells them she started her business with two sisters.
  • This gets Annabeth's attention – she's beginning to remember a story involving three sisters from Greek history.
  • Aunty Em tells them that she had a boyfriend once upon a time, but that a woman was jealous of her and tried to break them apart. The woman did something terrible to her that ruined her. Aunty Em's sisters stuck with her, but they eventually died.
  • Annabeth feels it's time to leave. NOW.
  • Grover agrees, but Percy is not so convinced.
  • Aunty Em asks them if they wouldn't mind posing for her. Percy doesn't see the harm in that, but Annabeth and Grover realize that Aunty Em is Medusa. Medusa has snakes for hair, and if you look at her, you will turn to stone. They warn Percy just in time.
  • The three fight their way out of Medusa's clutches.
  • Medusa tells Percy that Athena was the woman who cursed her and made her the way she is. (Athena caught Medusa and her boyfriend, Poseidon, in her sacred temple.) By the way, she is really ugly. And she has snakes for hair.
  • Percy manages to chop her head off by using a glass garden ball to watch her. As soon as the head is lopped off, Annabeth manages to cover it without looking at it.
  • Percy finds some mailing materials and packs the head into a box. He sends it to the gods on Mount Olympus with his best wishes.
  • He also finds the address of the Underworld in Los Angeles – it turns out Hades is one of Medusa's customers.

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