Study Guide

Identity Themes in The Lightning Thief

By Rick Riordan

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The Lightning Thief is all about identity and about discovering identity. At the beginning of our narrator's tale, Percy Jackson doesn't yet know who his father is or that he has any special powers of any kind. He thinks of himself as a "bad kid," one who always gets into trouble. Over the course of the story, however, he learns things about himself that he never thought possible. What he thought were weaknesses (his dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and knack for attracting trouble) turn out to be the markers of a demi-god, and a particularly powerful one at that. His identity is tested when he must make hard choices (i.e., deciding between staying within the safe walls of his camp or returning to NYC where monsters are sure to find him). With every choice Percy makes, he becomes more himself.

Questions About Identity

  1. How does Percy think of himself at the beginning of The Lightning Thief? How does he think of himself at the end of The Lightning Thief?
  2. Does Percy see himself as a demi-god or hero?
  3. What are the biggest choices or decisions that Percy makes over the course of this story?
  4. What does Poseidon have to do with Percy's identity?
  5. What does Luke think of himself? What is his self-identity?
  6. Is Percy a "normal" kid? Why or why not? What does being "normal" mean to you?

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