Study Guide

The Lightning Thief Chapter 21

By Rick Riordan

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"I Settle My Tab"

It's funny how humans can wrap their mind around things and fit them into their version of reality.


  • Percy is no longer a delinquent in the eyes of America – he is now the kidnapped child who was forced to trek across America by some biker dude, along with two other kidnapped kids.
  • Reporters feel so sorry for them that they collect money for their plane tickets home.
  • The plane ride is no cakewalk. Zeus is definitely angry that Percy is riding in his territory.
  • In New York, Percy tells Grover and Annabeth to get back to Camp Half-Blood quickly and safely to let Chiron know the whole story.
  • Percy is going to hand deliver the master bolt to Zeus.
  • He walks into the lobby of the Empire State Building and asks the front desk how to get to the 600th floor.
  • The guard at the front desk looks at Percy like he's crazy.
  • Just as Percy is about to run away from the guard, believing him to really be a mortal, the guard tells him that Zeus doesn't just meet with any ragamuffin from off the street.
  • Percy shows the guard the master bolt and the guard frantically hands him a special key, explaining how to use it in the elevator.
  • Percy rides up to the 600th floor.
  • When the doors open, he sees a narrow bridge towering over Manhattan, leading to a mountain of clouds.
  • Built into the mountain is a real live ancient Greek city, only it's not crumbling everywhere. It's beautiful, full of mansions and gorgeous architecture.
  • As Percy makes his way to the top of Mount Olympus, he sees all kinds of things going on: people selling ambrosia-on-a-stick, wood nymphs throwing olives flirtatiously at him, the Muses giving a concert in the park.
  • Everything about Zeus's palace is white and silver.
  • Percy enters the grand palace of Mount Olympus, and finds the massive throne room.
  • Inside the throne room he sees twelve thrones arranged in a U-shape, just like the cabins at Camp Half-Blood.
  • The thrones are empty, except for two at the very right.
  • There sit Percy's dad, Poseidon, and his uncle, Zeus. They look like giants, and they have been arguing.
  • Zeus wears a blue pin-striped suit and has a platinum throne.
  • Poseidon wears a Hawaiian shirt, khaki Bermuda shorts, leather sandals, and sits on a deep-sea fisherman's throne. Poseidon has the same rebellious look that Percy has.
  • Percy kneels in front of his dad first, which ticks Zeus off.
  • Poseidon tells his brother to chill out – it's only right that Percy greet his own dad first.
  • Poseidon is neither loving nor cold to Percy. He is very hard to read – just like the ocean is hard to read sometimes.
  • Percy tells Zeus the whole story and everything he knows. He gives Zeus the master bolt.
  • Percy tells them his suspicions about Kronos, but Zeus firmly closes the subject.
  • As he says goodbye to Percy, he tells him that he will spare his life this time, but Percy should never fly his skies again.
  • Poseidon tells Percy a little bit about Kronos, but he reminds Percy that Zeus has closed the discussion, so they cannot talk about it anymore.
  • Poseidon reduces himself to the size of normal man and tells Percy that his mom is alive and back home in their apartment in Queens.
  • When Percy gets home, he will have to make an important choice. Poseidon doesn't go into the details of what this choice will be, but he simply tells Percy there will be a package waiting for him.
  • Poseidon says that Sally Jackson is a queen among women, but that he does not wish a hero's life on Percy.
  • This feels like a punch in the guts to Percy.
  • Poseidon tells Percy not to misunderstand him:

    "You did well, Perseus. Do not misunderstand me. Whatever else you do, know that you are mine. You are a true son of the Sea God." (21.109)

  • As Percy walks back down Mount Olympus, everyone around him watches him and kneels with great respect.
  • He is a hero.
  • Percy takes a cab to his apartment.
  • Sally Jackson meets him at the doors and sweeps him up in her arms. She smells like delicious candy, as always.
  • She doesn't remember anything that happened between the attack of the Minotaur and now.
  • When she got back this morning, Gabe told her that Percy was a wanted criminal, and she's been worried sick all day long.
  • Gabe told her she had to go back to work immediately so that she could make up for a month's lost rent.
  • Percy has a maddening interaction with Smelly Gabe, who is furious at Percy and kicks him out of the house.
  • Percy realizes that Gabe has hit his mom and that it has perhaps happened before, when Percy was away at boarding school.
  • Ooooh, Percy is mad.
  • Sally and Percy go into Percy room, which is overrun with Gabe's stuff.
  • In his room, Percy finds a package – the same package he sent to Mount Olympus weeks ago. Inside, he knows is Medusa's head.
  • Percy tells his mom that she doesn't have to stay with Gabe anymore. She can dump him, go back to school, write novels.
  • He can turn Gabe to stone with one glimpse at Medusa's head.
  • Sally refuses to let Percy do that to Gabe, but Percy leaves Medusa's head with her, just in case.
  • He asks his mom why she doesn't live at the bottom of the ocean with Poseidon. Her response:

    "I think you know, Percy. I think you are enough like me to understand. If my life is going to mean anything, I have to live it myself. I can't let a god take care of me…or my son. I have to…find the courage on my own. (21.170)

  • Percy decides to go back to Camp Half-Blood for the rest of the summer. At the end of the summer, he would decide whether to come home or stay at the camp forever.
  • He leaves that night.

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